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Lavasa A Township built on Sand – How the Politics-Business Nexus Colluded to give Birth to this Environmental Disaster

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Lavasa has no long term sustainability,its a Township built on sand

Lavasa Township being constructed near Pune,Maharashtra has been in the media off and on for creating a environmental disaster in the shape of a beautiful township constructed on the hills.The town which has been constructed for 300,000 residents has violated all building and environmental norms of the state and centre.With powerful politicians and businessmen backing the project,its not as surprise that the state government of Maharashtra actively helped the township in bypassing all the laws and regulations.There is no provision for permanent  water supply and it would lead to a clash between the water wants of Lavasa and Pune.Note builders in India  are notorious for leaving out water and waste sustainability in their plans.The residents of the buildings,apartments and other shelters have to bear the brunt later on when there is no water and problems like waterlogging.Gurgaon the millenium township suffers from both of these problems quite acutely.Note these problems are common to both million dollar homes as well as slums in India.

Lavasa will have no water in the Future

Lavasa acknowledges in its red herring prospectus, filed at the time of initial public offer, that water scarcity may be problem for the township. Their contract with state water resources department states that under extraordinary circumstances Lavasa has to release water from the two check dams built at Dasve and Gadle, which comprise about 27.5 per cent of Lavasa’s water supply. In April and May every year, the Warasgaon dam nearly dries up before the monsoons begin. Not just Pune, Lavasa, too, could be reeling under severe water shortage.”

Lavasa Gets away with the Murder of the Environment

When the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) intervened and issued a stop-work order,LCL later applied for post facto clearance from MoEF arguing it has already spent about Rs 3,000 crore on the project and investors have gained third party rights in the city. This is the sorry state of affairs in the country where a builder can flout all laws and afterwards get away by saying he had invested so and so much and 3rd party money was also involved.Its like getting away with murder by saying that the murder had already been done and so much money has been spent on getting the person killed so the crime should not be punished.The absurdity of the argument is striking but that it how the system is working in India

Maharashtra State Government Bent Backwards,Twisting Rules and Regulations to let Lavasa gets its Way

Its apparent that the state government was hell bent on helping Lavasa get its way bending rules and regulations to help the Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC).Note Lavasa had an initial equity stake from Supriya Sule who is the daughter of Sharad Pawar inarguably the most powerful politician in Pune.He has been alleged to be involved in a number of other corruption scams.He resigned from the committee to write the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill after Anna Hazare accused him of corruption.Note he is the Federal Agricultural Minister as well as the Chairman of the ICC which are both corruption hotbeds.He openly and brazenly defended Lavasa despite clear conflict of interest The IPL Fiasco in which Lalit Modi was hounded out is a protege of Sharad Pawar who has also been linked to the 2G Telecom Scandal as the benami owner of the billion dollar corrupt real estate company DB Realty.With backers like these,its not a wonder that that bureaucrats bent all rules to favor the company.

a) On May 30, 2001, the Maharashtra government removed the upper limit of 2,000 ha in the hill station policy, allowing Lavasa to take as much land as it wished

b) On Lavasa’s request, the state urban development department amended the hill station policy again on June 7, 2007. The original regulation said the development “shall in no case” involve hill cutting. The clause was changed to: the development “as far as possible should not” involve cutting the mountains. The amendment triggered haphazard cutting of hills.

c) Ajit Gulabchand, chairperson of Hindustan Construction Company which owns 65 per cent of LCL, made a number of demands. These included reducing the no-development zone along the reservoir from 100 metre to 30 metre; designating LCL its own planning authority; allowing increase of height of buildings; permitting a mix of commercial and residential land use in the town centre and permitting a global (floating) FSI. Gulabchand gave a timeframe of four weeks to take necessary actions. The chief minister directed the officials to act expeditiously.

These demands were met the next year. In June 2008, LCL was made a special planning authority with powers to plan and approve development in the area under its jurisdiction.

Lavasa Illegally Confiscated Land from Poor Farmers using the Government as Proxy

372 hectares of land with LCL was acquired by the state under Maharashtra Agriculture Land (Ceiling and Holding) Act of 1961. Under the Act, land in excess of the ceiling limit is acquired from landowners and distributed to the landless. The government transferred this land to Lavasa, not the poor, activists Mugaon village says 65 families have lost nearly 135 ha to Lavasa without getting proper compensation.The people’s commission report says “land was grabbed by creating proxy relatives of the villagers, presenting false witnesses and forging land records in collusion with the district administration.”


Lavasa is a story of corruption,looting of the poor and raping of the surrounding environment by the Indian politician-bureaucrat-businessmen nexus in the cover of a beautiful township built for the rich and well heeled.There is little concern for the law as these powerful developers know that they can get away with murder quite literally.The long term sustainability of the township is in doubt which defeats the entire purpose anyway.Any buyer of property in Lavasa should be aware of these problems and should not buy it as their investment will be eroded in the future anyway besides having the taint of being looted from the poor.However the media too has lost interest as a new scandal emerges everyday.

Idea and Content Courtesy – Down To Earth


Abhishek Shah

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