The National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) and environmentalist Vishambhar Chowdhury have claimed that the recent memorandum issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) would throw a spanner in the subsequent phases of growth in Lavasa.
Addressing the media in the city on Monday,environmentalists Chowdhury and Suniti SR said of the 17 villages under Lavasa,13 have been identified as eco-sensitive areas where no development would be possible.
Refuting the claim,Lavasa corporation said the memorandum is not applicable to it.
Referring to the October 19 office memorandum issued by MoEF,the duo said the High Level Working Group (HLWG),headed by Dr K Kasturirangan,was constituted to suggest recommendations on how to protect,preserve and nurture rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats. Identification of 37 per of the Western Ghats as ecologically-sensitive zone was among the recommendations of the committee,they added.
The identified ecologically-sensitive area covers about 60,000 sq km of natural landscape of Western Ghats and represents a continuous band of natural vegetation extending over a horizontal distance of 1,500 km. The ecologically-sensitive area is spread across six states of Western Ghats region Gujarat,Maharashtra,Goa,Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the memorandum read.
Of the 8,000 hectares over which Lavasa corporation projects are likely to come up,permission has only been granted for 2,000 hectares. The environment and forest ministrys website has not listed as pending permission sought by Lavasa for the remaining land, they said.
Countering this,the Lavasa corporation said,This order does not apply to projects for which MoEF clearance has already been obtained. Lavasa has received environmental clearance for development on 2,000 hectares of land on November 9,2011. Pertaining to the project expansion,Lavasa Corporation Limiteds application for environmental clearance is pending with the State Environment Authority (SEAs) since August 5,2009 and is under consideration, said the statement issued by the company.
It added,The current order clearly states that the new expansion projects/ activities shall be prohibited in ESA (ecologically-sensitive area) from date of issuance of these orders except those for which applications have been received by EACs/MoEF or SEACS/SEIAAs before the date of putting HLWG (High Level Working Group) report on the website of the ministry,i.e.,April 17,2013 and which are pending with EACs/MoEF or SEACs/SEIAAs. Thus,it is very clear that the new notification will not impact the development of Lavasa in any way.