Lavasa: A `city for all'

In a bid to change the `gated city' status of Lavasa to a `city for all', the PMRDA will now allow easy access to the general public, so as to develop tourism in the area. Earlier, entry was restricted to invitees, as the entire control of the city rested with Lavasa Corporation; visitors were also levied parking and entry fees in areas that didn't belong to Lavasa.

In a meeting on Thursday, PMRDA officially took over Lavasa affairs. The state urban development department had earlier in July issued an order to give PMRDA the status of special planning authority ,after which all permissions and sanctions issued from December 4, 2015, onwards would have to be reviewed by this body, not by Lavasa.

PMRDA commissioner Kiran Gitte said, “We took the charge from senior vicepresident of Lavasa, David Amalraj. PMRDA will develop the hill station and make sure there is access for all. We will develop land in 18 villages that come under Lavasa Corporation, but exclude the land owned by Lavasa.“ Gitte added, “We hope that the new status of Lavasa city will invite more people to visit it. We also plan to try and set up a permanent local government body for long-term management.“

Of the 23,000 acres of land in question, 10,500 acres belong to Lavasa Corporation. PMRDA plans to develop the rest of 12,500 acres for tourists; as per the government order, the environment clearances, permissions and sanctions for this purpose will be checked by PMRDA.

The Lavasa Hill City Project currently faces restrictions from the Union environment ministry.

In 2008, the plan to create Lavasa Corporation had been finalised by then chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, as per instructions by Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar at a special Cabinet meeting. The township, planned on the lines of Portofino in Italy, is near Varasgaon dam.

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