WITH the ongoing water crisis in Maharashtra, the State Urban Development Department has adopted a cautious approach in approving villages for development as hill stations.
The department — through a notification issued recently — gave the villages of Mulshi (Khurd) and Varak in Mulshi taluka, Pune district, a hill station tag. However, to change its status in the regional plan, the condition laid down by the government is that the developer has to take a “no-objection certificate” from Tata company pertaining to the usage of water for construction purposes from the Mulshi Dam, besides other purposes. The notification was issued by the Urban Development Department on May 13. As Pune reels under water scarcity with officials imposing water cuts, there have been widespread protests over water being given to Lavasa hill station for construction purposes. Therefore, officials said, approval to develop these villages into a hill station has been done with caution and 19 conditions have been laid down.
Officials said, the developer for the hill station — Aqualand India Limited — according to the town planning department, will have to show the ownership of land above 400 hectare. The developer will have to follow the conditions laid down by the state which states—unless Tata company gives a no objection certificate on usage of water, the further process cannot be given a go-ahead. Presently, there is only one approved hill station — Lavasa in the district — while the second proposal of Maharashtra Valley Development ran into rough weather, the third in the Mulshi area has been approved with 19 conditions.
“After Lavasa, the government has decided to adopt a cautious approach towards every project. While the government has agreed to change the status of land from agricultural to that of a hill station, they want to ensure that no problems crop up as they did during Lavasa” said a town planning department official. With the hill station project coming under the catchment area of the dam, the state has also demanded a “no-objection certificate” from the environment department about waste water and solid waste,” states the notification.
The government under the November 26, 1996 notification has sanctioned the special regulations for development of tourist resorts/holiday homes/townships in hill station under section 20 (4) of the Maharasthra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. Suggestions and objections were sought for this and the deputy director of town planning had submitted the report to the state on October 21, 2009 to promote tourism.
Even as the state has decided to be tourism-friendly, the conditions laid down have spelt out clearly the rights of villagers and their access to forest land and the protection of it.
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A Few CONDITIONS…
1) ‘Right of way’ of all lands within gaothan and outside the gaothan will be intact.
2) Gaothan area shall be deleted from the proposal as part of rights of the villagers in these areas.
3) Permissions from the irrigation and forest department have to be sought for water usage and the source would also require clearance.
4) Specific concern has been stressed on any lands which are not transferable or which are not allowed to be sold or purchased as per the Maharashtra Land Revenue code to be deleted.
n Constructions not permissible on lands having altitude 1,000 metre and more and FSI of such land shall not be permissible.
n The other conditions include yearly report of the project submitted to the Collector.