“Mistakes are obviously committed while undertaking big projects and we are open to corrections,” said Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL) Chairman Ajit Gulabchand for the time first time on Friday since the controversy over the hill city started. However, he added that “these corrections should not make business impossible.”
Mr. Gulabchand was speaking to the media after meeting a team of experts from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which was in Lavasa for a three-day inspection. His stand seemed to have shifted from a denial that the hill city had violated any norms. Replying to the MoEF's stop-work order issued in November 2010, Agarwal Law Associates, representing the LCL, had stated: “Our clients deny each and every allegation made by you in the above notice.”
“There are no objective and measurable standards in India to check environmental damage. So the effort is to reduce the damage as much as possible,” Mr. Gulabchand stated. He emphasised that a project such as Lavasa had been undertaken for the first time in India, and that this model would be emulated by many.
According to a recent interview, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar admitted that he had chosen the location for the hill city to be built over 25,000 acres. Mr. Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule and son-in-law Sadanand Sule also had stakes in the LCL which they later sold off. However, when asked if Lavasa had any political affiliations, Mr. Gulabchand refused to comment.
On whether water supply in Pune would be affected by the dams built in Lavasa, Mr. Gulabchand said this allegation made by environmental activist Medha Patkar was baseless and that Pune would not be deprived of any of its share.
Claiming that since the stop-work order was issued, Lavasa had lost Rs. 2 crore a day.