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Lavasa plea: NGT to begin final hearing on Dec 4

The tribunal will also begin hearing the final arguments in an appeal filed by farmer Dnyaneshwar Shedge challenging the MoEF’s environment clearance given to Lavasa on same dates.

Written by AADITI JATHAR LAKADE | Published: October 24, 2012 1:21 am

The tribunal will also begin hearing the final arguments in an appeal filed by farmer Dnyaneshwar Shedge challenging the MoEF’s environment clearance given to Lavasa on same dates

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) will begin the final hearing on the Lavasa Corporation Limited’s appeal challenging the conditions imposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) from December 4 on day-to-day basis. The NGT will also begin hearing the final arguments in an appeal filed by farmer Dnyaneshwar Shedge challenging the MoEF’s environment clearance given to Lavasa on the same dates.

The NGT bench of expert member D K Agarwal and judicial member Justice V R Kingaonkar in its order last week stated,“The matters (Lavasa vs Union Government and others and Dnyaneshwar Shedge vs Lavasa and others) are fixed for final hearing on December 4,2012 with clear understanding that if hearing is required to be taken further,day die dem will continue.”

“While these are two different appeals concerning Lavasa Corporation Limited,they will be heard on the same dates on day-to-day basis,” said advocate Ritwick Dutta,representing Shedge in the NGT.

Lavasa,through its lawyers Rishi Agarwal and Megha Mehta Agrawala,in its appeal filed in 2011,had questioned the applicability of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006,requiring environmental clearance from MoEF on the project. On November 9,2011,the MoEF had granted environment clearance to the phase-1 of Lavasa subject to “strict compliance” of certain terms and conditions which included demarcation of land usage such as open spaces,diverting 5 per cent of its expenses for corporate social responsibility,creation of an environment restoration fund,which in turn will be monitored by verification and monitoring committee and a submission by the company that violations would not be repeated. The MoEF had also listed 47 conditions on Lavasa including having a separate budget for community development activities and income generating programmes and vocational training for individuals to take up self-employment and jobs.

After the MoEF had granted the environment clearance,Shedge though his lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary,had challenged it in April this year. The NGT had directed Lavasa,MoEF and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to file their replies in response to the appeal in July. Shedge had alleged in his appeal MoEF’s environmental clearance to Lavasa Lake city project was ‘arbitrary’. ‘There are also several other allegations with regard to the faulty procedure adopted as well as de-relegation of statutory provisions by the MoEF which according to the appellant goes to the root of the decision making process,’ the NGT had observed after Shedge’s submissions.

Even as Lavasa had opposed the appeal on grounds that the plea was time-barred as was delayed by 59 days after the environment clearance was granted,the NGT refused to accept the objections as the appeal was filed within the stipulated time of 90 days.

Hearing in Delhi

The NGT circuit bench in Pune has not been functioning for the last two months owing to lack of adequate infrastructure. “Therefore,the hearing of final arguments in both cases will be held in Delhi as Pune is yet to get a proper place for the circuit bench,” said advocate Ritwick Dutta,who is contesting various cases in NGT. The Pune circuit bench of NGT was constituted earlier this year at the board of revenue court opposite Council Hall in Pune. However,since the place is yet to be computerised and renovated as per court’s format,all petitions are being heard in Delhi. The NGT Pune has jurisdiction in Maharashtra,Gujarat,Goa and Union Territories of Daman and Diu.

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