AM/NS India violated Forest Conservation Act through wrongful possession and illegal construction: Gen Secy GPCC
"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.
Surat/Hazira(Gujarat) : An investigation has been demanded into Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) for alleged violations of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 for wrongful possession of a land parcel other than forest land sanctioned by the Government of India to carry out illegal construction.
Darshan Naik, general secretary of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), claimed in a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary of the Forest and Environment department, Government of Gujarat, that AM/NS India (formerly Essar Steel) was allotted land in survey number 179 in Hazira under FCA by the Government of India for the establishment of a 300 MW power plant and Raw Material Handling facility. The forest land in question, however, is vastly different from the land allotted to AM/NS India by the forest department.
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 have requested that the Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment 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).
“AM/NS India has already filed an application with the Government of India for the ‘change of use’ of the forest land,” an AM/NS India spokesperson told The Blunt Times. According to sources, the application has reached a certain level and will be approved soon.”