Medha Patkar’s NAPM welcomes the Lavasa report

The National Alliance of People’s Movements, led by Medha Patkar, has welcomed the environment ministry’s move to impose tough restrictions on the Lavasa Hill Township project near Pune.

“The Report and the Final Order is indeed courageous and honest on the part of the MOEF committee,” the NGO said in a statement.

Patkar’s NAPM has been at the forefront of protests against the hill township, expected to be home to 2 lakh people by 2020 and spread over more than 5,000 acres near Pune.

The ministry had held that the project violated three crucial environment laws — EIA Notification 1994, EIA Notification 2004 and EIA Notification 2006 and caused massive damage to the environment and ecolog

“It is a significant victory for the project affected people who have been at the core of movement demanding justice,” it said.

NAPM however wanted the ministry to also take action on violation of Forest Act 1980, on which enquiry is in progress.

“We believe that MoEF will amend the final order as soon as a decision on this issue is taken. Also, we presume that separate action will be prescribed by MoEF in case Lavasa is proved to have violated the said Act,” NAPM said.

“We assert that the Ministry should decide and expect from the Judiciary to take clear and strong position on Lavasa project’s illegality which cannot be diluted on the basis of criteria such as investment made till date. NAPM insists that the issue should be considered in its entirety of environmental protection and respecting the Rights of the local people,” it added.

By regularising Lavasa’s violations, a bad precedent will be set which will be followed by the other projects in the country to violate the law of the land with impunity and seek clearance later. As regards “employment”, it too cannot be a criteria to regularise or give any concession to Lavasa since the corporation also has not given permanent rozgar to the locals and only provided contractual labour work to a few hundred while taking away the land, livelihood, shelter and dignity of poor and resource-less, the NGO went on.