The firm that built Lavasa, India’s first private hill city, will no longer enjoy the unique status as Special Planning Authority (SPA) accorded to it nine years ago. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday withdrew the SPA status extended to industrialist Ajit Gulabchand-promoted Lavasa Corporation for the Rs 40,000 crore project located near Pune.
In June 2008, the then Congress-led government in Maharashtra had given the special status that gave Lavasa Corporation powers to draw up land use plans, sanction building and development plans on its own, besides unhindered power to develop lands falling in the hill city’s jurisdiction. It was the only instance in the country when such a status, usually retained by government’s town planning agencies, was extended to a private entity.
While activists have raised several complaints of irregularities and alleged misuse of the SPA status, it was a 2012 CAG report — that had also questioned the SPA status — that hurt Lavasa’s case the most. “There was a proposal to revoke Lavasa’s SPA status in 2012 itself. But the then government did not act on it,” said a senior government source.