Will Lavasa, the dream town that never saw became a reality, also be one of the war the Maha Vikas Aghadi fights? With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray stayed the Aarey metro project for cutting thousands of trees, will the new CM also take a step towards environmental restoration and put a final nail in Lavasa’s coffin?
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his family including daughter Supriya Sule and other people believed to be close to Pawar are invested in the project since its inception. Though the Pawar family had withdrawn from the project, some close aids of Pawar are still associated with the project.
The Lavasa project was based on the principles of new urbanism with shops, homes, workplace and recreational facilities are within walking distance of each other. The project that was to create provide a quality-life to its 300,000 residents and attract tourists, was later found to have bent several rules and sidelined many other environmental issues.
With protests that landed a stay on the project by the government, the half-dream town stands incomplete today with thousands of people’s money invested in the government.
The project was to occupy about 5,000 hectares along the edges of seven hills in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats. It had numerous buildings being constructed and reached the last stage until on November 25 2014, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) intervened as the project hadn’t had an environmental clearance from the Union ministry. The project had only received clearance from the Maharashtra government.
A committee formed to investigate including Central and state EAC members and MOEF officials had paid a visit to the town in January. A report dated January 13 by the committee had confirmed on the violations.
Later, it was also revealed that the project developers had ignored the EIA notification of 2006. According to the EIA notification, every project with an area of over 50 ha needs to have an environmental clearance which the project ignored.
Another major violation was that the buildings constructed were almost touching the waterbody while the permission given was to have any construction at a distance of 50m from the reservoir which was reduced to 30m and then 15m.
With many such violations that later came into view of the public, the project has been paused since with little to no idea about its plans. It will definitely be interesting to watch how the current Maharashtra government will act on the issue if brought back to the frontend again.