Lavasa seeks ecol clearance for 1st phase

New Delhi: After being given a lifeline, Lavasa on Monday applied afresh for environmental clearance to the first phase of its Rs 3000-crore hill city project near Pune, which is being considered by a high-level committee.

"They (Lavasa) have applied for phase-I clearance, which is being considered," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Monday.

He said the matter is being considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC).

"Phase I is 2000 hectares. Phase II is 3000 hectares. And if I recall right….today the application for the 2000 hectares is being considered. And two weeks from now… three weeks from now… the application for the next phase, which is already on…3000 hectares…will be considered," the minister said.

Asked when the decision was expected, the Minister said, "I don`t know. The committee is meeting. I don`t interfere in their function. They are meeting for deciding for the phase I clearance."

He said Lavasa did not get the clearance from environment view point.

"They went to court. The matter is in court. It is now they have applied for the environmental clearance. Today and tomorrow it is being considered in our ministry. It is going through the due diligence process now," Ramesh said.

The Environment Ministry last month had held that the controversial project was "unauthorised" and had directed the Lavasa Corporation Limited to maintain status-quo at the construction site.

However, providing a ray of hope for Lavasa, the Ministry had said it was prepared to consider the project being constructed near Pune on "merits" subject to fulfilment of certain conditions even as it ordered that no further construction should be undertaken for now.

On January 18, the Ministry in its order had said it was prepared to consider the project subject to imposition of penalties, creation of Environmental Restoration Fund (ERF), formulation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the management plan.