The Himachal Pradesh CPM has welcomed the decision to hold a vigilance inquiry into the Samatara cottages being constructed by the Bemloe construction company a proxy for DLF in the town. CPM leader Tikender Panwar said that the party had fought a concerted battle against the aforesaid company for violation of basic norms of the land. There have been innumerable discrepancies in the allotment of the housing project deep in the dense forest in Kanlog.
The party has stated, the forest clearance awarded by the Forest officials under the FCA in Chandigarh also has to be brought under the scanner as it is alleged that they too are hand in glove with the aforesaid company.
The chronology of events and facts with respect to the Bemloe Development and Infrastructure Company Limited (BDIC), which is constructing a housing project in Kanlog ward of Shimla Municipal Corporation are as:
It may be reiterated that on 23rd May a protest demonstration was held in front of the Forest Department by the activists of CPM. This led to the formation of a high level committee comprising of the Chief Conservator Forest regarding the complaints made by the CPIM w.r.t to the damage done to the Forest cover in Kanlog allegedly by the aforesaid company. This was done in connivance with some of the Forest Officials. The preliminary enquiry revealed that the old Forest road from Parsi Cemetery to Old Brewery being carved out during the British Raj has been thoroughly damaged and illegally trees have been cut. Not just that the actual road has been dumped under the debris extracted from the construction site of BDIC.
Now the point is how has the company operated to get the deal done, road used, repaired, altered and re constructed. Initially to get hold of the land the most important requirement is to get hold of the road. But the road happens to be that of the Forest which is a Mule road and could in no circumstance be used for the vehicle. Further that the road was such that unless re-constructed the gradient was such, i.e. steep that no vehicle could have been run. To get hold of this road the permission was required from the Forest department which means the Forest Conservation act would be applied and the permission can be sought only from the Centre.
However a bypass method was sought and fraudulently the aforesaid company forged signatures of a large number of people demanding the repair/ maintenance of the Kanlog- Beerkhana Road. Some of the signatories died long back and some have plainly refused stating that they have no idea how their names have come up in the memorandum addressed to the chief minister dated nil but marked from the O/o chief minister on 21st March 2011. Interestingly some of the names that figure in the memorandum have no connection to the site e.g Gautam Jain, Mohit Sud, et al.
It is on the pretext of repair that the BDIC intervened and not only got the original road changed, widened but illegally cut down dozens of trees. A bare perusal of the site clearly vindicates this statement. The Old road has been dumped and instead a new road has been made. At a number of places the remnants of old road can be seen. Since it is dense forest during the course of widening of this road a large number of trees were chopped down. Some of the stumps are still present. The Forest department has marked trees on this road from No 1/011 to 35/011. The department has categorically stated both in the Vidhan Sabha and in the public that these trees have been marked owing to the immediate threat to them because of the construction activity on the road. These trees are large, young and seed bearing.
That no such activity could have been done in the Forest Road without the prior approval of the Forest Conservation Act guidelines asking for the approval from the competent authority i.e. the Central government. To avoid seeking such a permission which would have forced the said builder to follow the procedure a shortcut method was used in which the people were used as a shield that too without their assent.
Further, to add that the application marked by the chief minister was immediately followed by the Deputy Commissioner Shimla who sanctioned an amount of Rs 35 lakhs. However as of now only Rs 7 lac has been utilized that too the payments have been made to n number of contractors. Though a bare visit to the site will show that more than Rs 2 crores has been spent on the road. (All this has been done by the company.)
CPM alleged that the Municipal Commissioner provided the no objection certificate on the same day on which the application was made i.e. 22.4.2009 for the building of the housing project. This was done without any field report and so on. A fact can be verified from the Architect planning office that the plot on which the project is coming up had more than 35 Devdar trees that have been cut without even showing the permission from the Forest department. Similarly the forest department on 21st May 2009 allowed the company to use the forest road though it is clearly mentioned in the past that the road is not in a condition to be utilized. It is a strange fact that the same road was screaming for repairs as expressed by the councilor on 16-6-2007, who presently is the Mayor had made a request to repair the Kanlog – Beerkhana road but no action was taken until the housing project got the approval. Incidentally, the road repair as stated to have been done for the interests of the local people has actually been blocked by the debris that have been thrown during the construction of this new road. So the actual road has been hidden underneath this new road, though the traces of the old road can be seen at the site.
Not just that the then Chief Minister of the state had lied in front of the Vidhan Sabha stating that the 3 CPIM leaders namely Rakesh Singha, Kuldeep Singh Tanwar and Tikender who visited the site along-with the Forest officials after their gherao have also given a clean chit is absolutely false and serves the interests of the builders.
Now with the vigilance inquiry being constituted the hidden facts must be brought to the fore and the guilty who virtually act as real estate mafia can be brought to book.