Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gir land ‘deal’: Cong questions PM’s silence.

The Gir Forest in Gujarat, home to the Asiatic Lion, is considered to be one
of the most important protected areas in Asia
OUR BUREAUThe Gir Forest in Gujarat, home to the Asiatic Lion, is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia
Charges State, Central govts with impropriety, conflict of interest
The Congress continued its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on the issue of an alleged land deal favouring the latter’s family members.
Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said Modi and Patel are silent on the questions posed by the Congress on the land deal. “Unfortunately, the silence of both the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Gujarat has been deafening. Over the last two days, certain new facts have emerged that make the charge of gross impropriety and conflict of interest far, far more dynamic,” he said, maintaining that since environment is a Concurrent subject, both the State and Central governments should respond.
“On 1 July 2015, the government of Gujarat issues a notification. Rather than protecting the Asiatic Lion and the Gir Forest, it decides to bring down the permissible limit of construction from two kilometres to one kilometre. So, therefore, the question which arises is, is this customisation of policy taking place and for whose benefit? Who is benefitting by the flagrant violation of the Environment Protection Act and the Wildlife Act and Prime Minister, if this is not corruption, then would you care to explain to the country, as to what exactly is this?” Tewari said.
Reiterating the Congress’ demand for a court-monitored probe into the matter, Tewari said not only had government land been given at a throwaway price to private players, but more importantly, the Environment Projection Act, The Wildlife Act, The Gir Forest Sanctuary have been violated with impunity.
Demands probe
“So, under those circumstances we would once again like to reiterate that the Prime Minister should clarify and the Supreme Court should take suo moto cognizance and have an independent investigation into the whole affair,” he demanded.
When asked why the UPA government took no action between 2010 and 2014 on the alleged malpractices, he said nothing had occurred between 2010 and 2015 that warranted interference. “It all fell into place in 2015 when this government decides to lower the limit to one kilometre,” he said.
“Here is a Prime Minister who had told the whole country ‘Na khata hoon aur na khane deta hoon’, and then when issues are raised, all that you have met with is deafening silence,” Tewari said.
(This article was published on February 8, 2016) 

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