MLC Vidya Chavan claims forest officials gifted the land to builders.
NCP MLC Vidya Chavan on Thursday accused forest department officials of colluding with the builder lobby, alleging that the department has given away 572 acres of land in Malad to builders for free.
She said, “The land was handed over to the BMC and should have been acquired by the forest department, as the BMC didn’t want it. However, the department did not make any efforts to acquire the land, letting it get taken over by builders.”
According to Chavan, the forest department is prompt to give no-objection certificates (NOCs) to the rich, but they have a problem in providing similar NOCs to the poor.
She was unsatisfied with the answers given by Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam. The minister then assured that a meeting would be called and action would be taken.
Then, Congress MLC Charanjitsingh Sapra raised the issue the forest department evicting slum dwellers residing illegally in the vicinity of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in areas such as Shankar Tekdi, Panchsheel Nagar and Hanumanpada, among others.
Sapra said that the residents of the slums have been living there for the past 50 years and evicting them will be a problem as their livelihood will be affected.
He pointed out that it is disputed whether the forest department has jurisdiction over that piece of land, and that until a report on the same is submitted by the revenue department, the slum dwellers should not be evicted. Responding to this, Kadam said that they would not be evicted.