, 21 tweets, 10 min read
EXCLUSIVE: Sharad Pawar & Modi Govt, with the full awareness of the Prime Minister's Office, sought to help a Pune builder who violated green laws & was penalised by the National Green Tribunal for doing so. Full report at: bit.ly/2VFYXuF #Thread with key highlights 1/n
After the NGT imposed Rs 105 cr in damages on the Pune builder for violating green laws & damaging environment, Sharad Pawar wrote a letter lobbying PM Modi to water down NGT's powers, help the "construction sector" of Maharashtra. (pg1 of letter) bit.ly/2VFYXuF 2/n
Prime Minister's Office sent the letter to the environment and finance ministries for comments and set a deadline of five days. Environment ministry's internal memo called it a "priority" matter. bit.ly/2VFYXuF 3/n
Worth noting that the builder Pawar was backing, Goel Ganga Developers (India) Pvt Ltd (respondent no 9), was termed by NGT a "defaulting entity" which hasn't "complied with law and has adopted a most careless and reckless attitude in relation to protecting the environment" 4/n
Despite this, Pawar heaped praise on the project in his letter to PM Modi and claimed faults in NGT's order itself. Some arguments in Pawar's letter found their way in a letter real estate lobby group CREDAI wrote to MoEFCC secretary 6 months later. 5/n bit.ly/2VFYXuF
Astonishingly, some of the key arguments made by Pawar and CREDAI in their letters were earlier made by the builder in the NGT and later given legal force by the Modi Govt's environment ministry through an Office Memorandum. The SC termed it illegal 6/n bit.ly/2VFYXuF
All in all, the trail of documents suggests business concerns trumped any political or ideological difference between Modi & Pawar. Both backed the real estate lobby even if it damaged the environment. Pls read the full report at: bit.ly/2VFYXuF 7/7
EXCLUSIVE: New documents show Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis lobbied Prakash Javadekar to ask the environment ministry to take the blame for Goel Ganga Group firm's violation of environment laws after the SC imposed damages of Rs 105 crore on the firm. bit.ly/32cuMdP
In a closed-door meeting with Javadekar, Fadnavis & his officials blamed "ambiguity" in the environment ministry's notifications & Office Memoranda for the real estate firm's violation of green laws. A note summarising Maha Govt's position & request says: bit.ly/32cuMdP
Worth noting that the SC imposed at least Rs. 105 cr as damages for violating green laws & towards environmental compensation costs to undo environmental destruction caused when the company expanded the scope of its construction project illegally. bit.ly/32cuMdP
The Supreme Court explained in August 2018 why it gave a high penalty. It said that was because of the "totally intransigent and unapologetic behaviour" of the Goel Ganga Developers (India) Pvt. Ltd. This is the real estate firm that Fadnavis was backing bit.ly/32cuMdP
When Fadnavis & Javadekar met in Mumbai on 7 June, the state govt requested the MoEF&CC to recognise that Goel Ganga Developers violated green laws “due to ambiguity” in the ministry’s notifications and office memoranda, documents show. bit.ly/32cuMdP
The language of Fadnavis/Maha Govt's’s request to Javadekar echoed that of petitions filed by Goel Ganga Developers and real estate lobby group Builders’ Association of India in the Supreme Court. bit.ly/32cuMdP
Both the Pune firm & lobby group told the SC that the definition of Built-Up Area in the environment ministry’s EIA notification 2006 was “ambiguous”, challenging the SC judgement dated 10 August 2018 which clearly stated that there was no ambiguity. bit.ly/32cuMdP
Fadnavis Govt's stance—while being the same as that of the real estate industry—is contrary to the union environment ministry’s stated position in court. In 2018, the MoEF&CC said the definition of Built-Up Area in the 2006 notification was clear. bit.ly/32cuMdP
As @lara_jesani, who has experience of handling environmental cases, told me, "the Fadnavis government has bent backwards to favour the real estate lobby." bit.ly/32cuMdP
When we asked the Maha CM why he or his govt lobbied for Goel Ganga, Fadnavis said, “The state has not preferred to back any entity but industry as a whole." bit.ly/32cuMdP
“The government has been told that the interpretation of the [10 August 2018] judgement shows certain grey areas which can jeopardise the future of the industry. It has been the argument of the CREDAI,” Fadnavis told us in a written response. bit.ly/32cuMdP
CREDAI is the private real estate developers' authorised lobby group and Maharashtra CM confessed that he lobbied with the union environment minister Prakash Javadekar at its behest. What he did not confess to was that this was at the cost of environment. bit.ly/32cuMdP
Adv @lara_jesani believes Fadnavis' support for the real estate lobby is "at the cost of the people, environment, public health and safety, sustainability and even public revenue." bit.ly/32cuMdP
In mature democracies, this kind of closed-door lobbying could cause a furore. In Maharashtra, willingness to help big builders violate green laws is one of the few things politicians agree on as Pawar & Fadnavis' efforts for helping this builder show. bit.ly/32cuMdP
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