The Gujarat government on Tuesday(2 March, 2010) admitted in the assembly that Essar Ltd encroached Rs 250 crore forest land in Hazira(Suvali).
State Forest minister Mangubhai Patel in reply to Kalupur(Ahmedabad) MLA Faruk Sheikh told the assembly that the state government had registered four cases against the company in this regard.
According to the Minister, in 2006 Essar encroached forest land in survey number 434/1/1 for which the Deputy Conservator of forest, Vyara had registered four complaints and action was taken under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. The first complaint was filed on 19 January, 2007. The construction on encroached land stopped thereafter. The second complaint on January 19, 2007 was related to act of clearing land and starting work on the installation of a fencing in survey no 334/A/1. The fencing attempt was terminated. The third complaint was filed on February 6, 2007 when Essar attempted to build houses on the forest land. The construction work was stopped in survey no 178 and 181. The last complaint was filed on October 30, 2007 to initiate the process of removing the encroachment in total, but the task has not been completed yet.
Surat’s Assistant Public Prosecutor and the Assistant Government Pleader had recommended action against four officers: two range forest surveyors, one surveyor and the DILR office’s surveyor. A commission inquiring into the Surat floods of 2006 had said that Essar’s encroachment of land in Surat district and the Hazira area was one of the factors responsible for the calamity.