Shimla: High end villas being constructed in a deeply wooded forest here have aroused fresh controversy with the cityâ€™s mayor and commissioner at loggerheads over a road to the property that is being marketed as the first gated colony of Shimla.
Pointing out the plight of villagers living close to the upcoming colony, Mayor Madhu Sood says, â€œthe forest department and municipal commissioner are unconcerned about the common citizen.
When it came to providing road access to a high profile builder, no objection certificates were issued by forest department and the commissioner in a single day and when I ask for extending the road to nearby Bihargaon (village) along an old path existing from British days, the proposal is scuttled.â€
The controversial upcoming colony being built by Bemloe Development and Infrastructure Company has been granted permission under section 118 of HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act for free sale and DLF on its website is marketing the 24 super luxury villas proposed to be built under SamaTara brand.
The site visible from the Vidhan Sabha had rocked the budget session in March-April and put the government on the defensive about having granted construction permission in densely forested areas of the city.
Opposition leader Vidya Stokes in the house had proposed to do a spot inspection of the controversial property and submit a report within a day but the government had declined the offer.
However, Mayor Madhu Sood on Tuesday along with some media persons undertook a surprise inspection of the site and pointed out the plight of villagers whose access path was being denied. The Mayor has event threatened to take the issue to court.
Municipal Commissioner AN Sharma says, â€œa legal notice was served on the builders and it was found that they had obtained all permissions to undertake construction activity.â€
Washing his hands of the mayors allegation, the commissioner said, â€œthe road to the property passes through Shimla municipal forest area and the forest is being managed by the governments forest department, with the MC having no role in it.”
Distancing the department from any wrong doing, forest official NK Guleria said the forest department, on government directions, had conducted an inquiry about any forest violations having taken place.
Maintaining that no violations had been found, he said, â€œa report has been submitted to the government.â€
Regarding the mayors contention about a road for the landlocked village, the forester says, â€œin revenue and forest records, no road or path through the site exists.â€
Sources say an ambulance road to Bihargaon through the exclusive property could reduce the sale value of villas which are said to being priced at Rs 3 crore for one villa.