Shortly after it asked the Centre to clarify the exact powers of Lavasa as a Special Planning Authority or SPA, the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Environment Ministry has found that Lavasa showed a higher built-up area in its plans by calculating its FSI in the wrong way.
It asked the firm to come up with the correct figures, shortly after Maharashtra state government officials made a presentation before the Committee on the laws governing Lavasa’s upcoming hill city near Pune.
The move is the latest obstacle in the path of the embattled corporation as it tries to restart work at its stalled hill city project near Pune.
The Committee noted that Lavasa had arrived at 41.57 hectares as the maximum possible built-up area by taking the entire 613 hectares of land under consideration. It pointed out that according to the clarification given by the State Government, Lavasa could not have used the entire 613 hectares of land to calculate the maximum possible built-up area or FSI (floor space index.)
It pointed out that very steep hill slopes are not part of the strict project area and cannot therefore not be counted for the purpose of calculating the FSI.
“The above FSI has been worked out on the entire area of 681 hectares, but it is necessary to work out the global FSI on the developable/buildable land, which means that the areas which are steeper than 1:3 cannot be counted while calculating the global FSI. It will, therefore, be necessary for the Special Planning Authority to demarcate the areas where the slopes are steeper than 1:3, get the same verified through the Director of Town Planning and then calculate the global FSI on the basis of developable/buildable land only,” it pointed out.
The move has come as yet another headache to the corporation, which shot into the headlines after environment minister Jairam Ramesh ordered it to stop work at its 5,000 hectare [50 square km] hill city project near Pune. Jairam Ramesh had pointed out that the company had not taken any required environment clearance from the centre, while the firm said that no such clearance was required.
The two then took the battle to the Bombay High Court, where it is still being fought out. In March, a compromise was suggested by the Expert Appraisal Committee — second only to Jairam Ramesh — that Lavasa should be allowed to complete the 613 hectares on which work has been irrevocably started.
However, again in early April, the Committee highlighted that the built up area (floor area) had been almost doubled by the company to 4.56 lakh square metres or 45.6 hectares without seeking approval from the district collector.
The Corporation, however, got much needed relief on the water front. The Committee found that water diversion by Lavasa city will not have any impact on the availability of water to Pune city — a previous cause of concern. “The domestic water requirement of Pune city is 325.68 Mm3 which is considerably higher than requirement of Lavasa city… the marginal diversion shall affect the downstream irrigation use but there will not be any effect on domestic water,” it noted in its latest comments.