In a setback to HCC’s hill station project Lavasa Corporation, the Maharashtra state government has withdrawn its special planning authority (SPA) status. This could slow down the next phase of development of the project.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday decided to revoke Lavasa’s SPA status and bring it under the jurisdiction of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA). The state government will now have a say in Lavasa’s 10,000-hectare town planning and development control rules.
While Maharashtra’s Urban Development Department (UDD) had recommended to the government in 2013 that the SPA status should be revoked, the Prithviraj Chavan government did not take a final decision on the matter.
Kiran Gitte, CEO, PMRDA, confirmed the development but said he would wait for the notification before taking up any further development. Lavasa will now have to comply with the town planning and development control regulations of the PMRDA.
A spokesperson for Lavasa Corporation said he had not received the notification or any official communication and would respond only after studying it.
In 2007, the Urban Development Department of the Maharashtra government had amended the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966, relating to special development control regulations for development of tourist resorts, holiday homes or townships. Lavasa Corporation was declared as the SPA for the area in 2008.
This gave Lavasa Corporation, as the SPA, total control over the use of the land and the freedom to draw up the master plan. The freedom to use the land was integral to the quantum of investments in Lavasa.
Dasve was the first town developed in Lavasa and was focussed on hospitality, residential properties and retail outlets. Bhoini was being conceived as an education valley with large education campuses, R&D centres and knowledge parks as well as reasonably priced housing options. Mugaon was slated to become a residential, edutainment and commercial hub while Dhamanohol was to have an 18-hole golf course. Master plans for other towns were being drawn up.
The Maharashtra government’s decision to grant SPA status to LCL was criticised by environmental activists as well as the judiciary. The Bombay High Court had asked the state government to relook the special status after allegations of violations of environment laws. Maharashtra has been the only state to give such planning powers to a private company.