Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Friday filed a criminal complaint against Lavasa Corporation, promoters of the Lavasa Hill City here for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA).
The officials of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) filed the complaint in a magisterial court against nine Lavasa directors, including chairman of its holding company HCC, Ajit Gulabchand, and six other officials.
The action by the state government was initiated following directions from the Bombay High Court. The court had on October 20 passed the direction after it was informed that the government had failed to take any action against Lavasa despite an order from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The state government had said it had not taken any action as the matter was sub-judice and Lavasa's petition was pending before the high court.
The court, however, directed the Maharashtra government to initiate credible action against Lavasa within two weeks and had also asked MoEF to pass its final order within a week thereafter on the application filed by Lavasa seeking environment clearance.
When Chief Judicial Magistrate N T Ghadge asked the MPCB lawyers why they filed the case on the last day of stipulated time, they said they were collecting the documents for the case.
The magistrate said the court process would start after scrutiny of the case documents.
Lavasa is carrying out construction work at 681 hectares of its total 2,000 hectares project in Pune district without the mandatory clearances.
Five years of imprisonment and a penalty of Rs one lakh or both is the punishment under the sections 15 and 16 of the
Environment Protection Act under which a case has been filed against Lavasa Corporation, an MPCB lawyer said.
Meanwhile, a Lavasa Corporation spokesperson termed the legal action against the company as unfortunate.
"In compliance with the pre-conditions set by the MoEF for granting environment clearance to the Lavasa project, the Maharashtra government has taken necessary action by filing complaint in magistrate court, Pune. It is unfortunate that the government which had itself granted the environment clearance to Lavasa in 2004, has had to initiate this action."
Incidentally, action by the government was the only pre-condition coming in way of the project getting environment clearance from MoEF, the company said.
"We wish to reiterate that Lavasa Corporation has adhered to laws of the land at all times and will continue to do so in
the future," the spokesperson said in a statement issued here.