Lavasa Project: An example Of Faux Pas Or Restitution?

Posted on January 24, 2011 in Society

By Ipshita Mitra:

A class of activists, intellectuals, reformers and environmentalists are on the streets yet again. This time it is not Posco, Vedanta, Polavaram, Singur, nor Narmada Dam but it is the Lavasa Project that has seemed to instill a kind of social unrest and political agitation among the people of India, especially the peripheral sections of a hierarchically graded society who find themselves at the losing-receiving end of the imperialist model of industrial expansion.

The recent decision by the Ministry of Environment and Forest that denies further construction work by the Lavasa Corporation on pretexts of ecological norms and inadequate rehabilitation measures for the displaced has ignited discomfort for the prospective company. Lavasa on the contrary feels that the decision is motivated more by judicial monopoly rather than environmental issues and hence scrutinizes it with suspicion.

While the company alleges that their ambit of corporate social responsibility aims to encompass the needs of the villagers surrounding the site area and build an industrial set-up with the consent of all, the project has provoked social activists and environmentalists like Anna Hazare and Medha Patkar however to point out the anomalies in the 4,000cr budget project. The 25,000 acre township of the hill station city of Lavasa is almost symptomatic of luxury with its location amidst one of the world’s highest rainfall points, the primary reason why it has been under the scanner since its inception in the year 2001. Activists protest on the grounds that the project has not only failed in acquiring the necessary environment clearances as stipulated under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 1994, but the LCL (Lavasa Corporation Limited) has taken environment clearance under “unknown” provisions of the law from the Environment Department of the Maharashtra government.

With construction on 2,000 hectares, complete with four hotels, a town centre, apartments and luxury villas and an adventure sports club, among other amenities, the very nature of the project indicates to cater to the fanciful demands of a specific privileged stratum of society that it seeks to gain monetary patronage from. The cruel and atrocious felling of trees and massive deforestation in the bid of carving out an industrial niche for the so-called “modernised” development of India unfortunately neglects the mutilation of the landscape and nature’s abode at the expense of profit-making ethic. The very concept of “development” has taken on an abusive meaning for the marginalised as they are relegated within the quarters of exclusion and deprivation.

As Philip Larkin, (an Anglo-American poet) had once lamented about the fall of England’s pillar in the wake of industrial revolution and contrasted its ecological perishing with Ireland’s pristine state of flora and fauna synthesis, the present calendar day replicates the concerns of Larkin that he had addressed in the 1920-30s in so far as environmental degradation (in terms(in this case) of haphazard cutting of hills, denuding forests, excavations, road buildings and even violation of the 100 metre buffer rule from the water line) under the hammers of commercialisation is concerned. These actions can lead to erosion and high possibility of landslides affecting the inhabitants.

It is important to note that while Lavasa authorities and the village managers claim that the villagers will be guarded with an equipped system of rehabilitation and employment opportunities in the wake of the industrial enterprise, none of the media organisations whether TV, newspapers or radio have included first hand personal accounts of villagers to lend authenticity to the tall claims of the corporate. This is itself is an indication of denying the voiceless an adequate platform to articulate their reservations against the project. Only the representatives of the villages and the companies have been heard. What about those who will be directly affected by the execution of this project?

It is about time that the nexus between industrial units, corporate domains and the state politicians and officials is broken so that an environmentally and a socially viable atmosphere is created for the people to live in. Barren lands, uprooted forests and wildlife absent hill station can only remain stationary with artificial and commercial ornaments, where sunshine and chirping of birds too will be eclipsed by industrial smoke and polluted fog.

Recognise and choose the “green” of nature and wildlife over the “green” of currencies that only promise a transient satisfaction and fulfilment.

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  • Nandini Pandit

    Lavasa is not for the elite. It’s an entire city which will be host to all socio-economic classes of the society. You can find out the rates at which various houses are available for sale.

    Next, Anna Hazare and Medha Patkar have not noticed that Lavasa has taken several measures to keep the place green and have done a lot for the locals. The locals have access to good roads, electricity, water, housing, sanitation, employment and above all education for their children. Lavasa has planted approx 6 lakh trees and undertaken several steps to maintain the eco-system of that area. Anyone who visits the place can see it for themselves, how lush and green that city is. Please visit Lavasa Community on facebook to see what fans are saying and sharing the pictures of Lavasa!!!

    Even the ministry team which inspected Lavasa for three days, said that there has been no major damage to the area. Despite that they went back and gave a report which said that Lavasa has done a lot of harm to environment and it is ready to allow the project to go on, provided Lavasa pays a hefty penalty. How’s that going to help environment? These are nothing but tactics to make money.

    As for the first hand personal accounts of villagers to lend authenticity to the tall claims of the corporate, watch this video:


    Read this article:


    Thank you for the comment. It has really provided yet another insight into the matter. Do you really think that the greenery that you are saying has been well maintained by the project will remain intact once the project is executed? as for the personal accounts of villagers that you are referring too, for me does not hold true because these comments made in the affirmative as far as the project goes has a possibility of having been concocted and extracted by means of threat and coercion..Of course you are entitled to your subjective opinion regarding the matter. As a citizen of India even I am not against industrial advancement of the country but its fulfillment at the expense of a poor man’s habitat is not acceptable. As far as as planting of trees is concerned, even that I believe (which you are free to counter) is a strategy to appease the residing locals to bring them under confidence. Any industrial project n its nascent stages devises all sorts of plans to convince the masses about its utility but at the end of the day it culminates in suiting their personal vested interests.


    In the minutes 21-9/2011 of the government so many issues were taken up.I will touch upon the heavy metals like chromium,cadmium,lead etc were enormous per kg. in 2004 report,how it was heavily reduced in the 2011 reports.Sever disposal from the Plant STP,in case of its failure in rainy season was required to be addressed.We should guard against the leaching of heavy metals and sewage in the waters of Warasgaon reservoirs to forbid Pune and lavasa people to be a victim of this good intentioned development. I am quite sure when heavy metals are high in the area,they are sure to have gone into the water reservoirs in past so many years of development work taking place by cutting the top soil along with rain water..It is needed that,heavy metal contents in the waters should be examined and all care should be taken that the project does not turn out to be a nightmare. I would welcome Oxford and NASA in Lavasa so that they have a hassle free environment and not the issues of heavy metals and sewage mixing with water and there impact on health.

      kishor kolhe

      I am kishor kolhe . from maharastara . my colifcation m s w . 1 mant bloc plesment plz sir

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