AM/NS India accused of violating Forest Conservation Act in Surat: Investigation demanded

Under the FCA, land allotment is site specific, and the land approved by the government cannot be changed


Surat : A high-level investigation has been demanded into the alleged violation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 by Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) in 7.18 hectare of forest land in the Choriyasi taluka in Surat.

Darshan Naik, general secretary of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) has written a letter to the Gujarat’s Additional Chief Secretary, Forest and Environment department, Gandhinagar urging him to order an investigation into the alleged diversion of 7.18 hectare forest land parcel in Hazira and the violation of the FCA, 1980.

Naik has claimed that AM/NS India violated of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 with the wrongful possession of a land parcel other than forest land sanctioned by the Government of India to carry out illegal construction.

Under the FCA, land allotment is site specific, and the land approved by the government cannot be changed. Before submitting the proposal for the allotment of land under FCA to the government, the local forest authorities in Surat must visit the site and conduct site visits.

According to Naik, AM/NS India has submitted an application to the Government of India for a “change of use” of the forest land allotted under the FCA. While the forest land was designated for a power plant and raw material handling facility, the company has applied to build a blast furnace plant, which could pose a serious environmental threat.

“While the ‘change of use’ application of AM/NS India is still pending with the Government of India, I have been informed by locals that the company has begun the expansion activity,” Naik told The Blunt Times. This is a clear violation of the FCA, and I have demanded an investigation and action in this regard.”

“I had submitted a representation to Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment on February 24, 2023 for conduct a field visit to the land in question and investigate whether the company violated the FCA,” Naik said.

On October 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually attended the ‘Bhoomi Punjan’ of AM/NS India’s expansion project at its Hazira plant in Surat. AM/NS India is increasing capacity at its Hazira plant from 9 to 15 million tonnes per annum (MTPA).