Himachal Govt draws flak over green violations by builders

Shimla: Lashing out at the BJP government for promoting private builders, Congress legislator Mukesh Agnihotri said that the impression around was that the entire Himachal Pradesh was up for sale and the government was selling its resources.

Participating in the budget debate, the congressman mentioned two cases and said that the government was making a case of discrimination by the central government about meager allocation of green bonus, but had turned a blind eye to environment violations being made by Bemloe Builders in Shimla and Optima Constructions in Solan.

Heavy machinery deployed at construction site in forested area: Photo By Amit Kanwar

Saying that Bamloi Builders was a front company for DLF builders, Agnihotri sought to know who had permitted such constructions in the middle of a thick forest cover. With regard to the Solan construction, he said that in violation of forest laws 1,000 trees had been felled and no action had been initiated against the violators.

The government may be abiding the law, but the impression, he said, was that it was selling the state resources be it to private universities, to industrial houses or to colonizers.

The lawmaker demanded to know as to how many permissions under the Apartment Act had been granted in and around Shimla and what was the need for it.

To save farmlands, he asked the government to make the state lands laws more stringent and ban any sale of agriculture land as it was up for grabs and there was nobody to protect it anymore.

Referring to a case in the Supreme Court for obtaining the state’s share under Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966, Agnihotri said it was a Congress government that had taken the bold step to get its just rights.

Earlier, Harshwardhan Chauhan of the Congress questioned the state awards for best agriculture state as the economic survey 2011 presented in the house had shown a decline in food grain production over the past three years.

Defending the budget, Kushi Ram Balnahta of the BJP said it was a pro-poor budget and every section of society had been taken care of.

Responding to forest violations being done by the builders as pointed out by Agnihotri, Balnahta said under the previous Congress regime gross violations were done by owners of Jagson Airlines in the core Jakhoo area in Shimla and the then government had overlooked it.

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