A number of BJP legislators have raised their voices against a residential project that is coming up Lataguri of Jalpaiguri district, alleging it would affect the ecology of the area on the fringes of Gorumara National Park.
Senior forest officials and representatives of the real estate group developing the project, however, have denied the charges.
The Calcutta-based Ambuja Neotia Group is coming up with Vanya Awas, a residential project with multi-storey apartments and duplex villas, along with a host of other facilities. The site is in Jharmatiali, a locality under Malbazar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district.
“The housing project will affect the forest cover and wildlife habitat in western Dooars. We have raised questions in the Assembly and have written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee. But there is no reply from the state’s side. I have also filed an RTI in this regard,” said Shankar Ghosh, the BJP MLA of Siliguri.
He said no environmental impact assessment was conducted before clearance was given to the project.
“The state has recently taken a policy decision to change leasehold land to freehold land. We suspect it can be detrimental for tea estates, which include locations on the fringes of reserve forests,” added Ghosh.
On Sunday, the MLAs, along with some party leaders and Jayanta Roy, the BJP MP of Jalpaiguri, visited the site where construction has started.
On Monday, BJP legislators, led by Manoj Tigga, the party’s chief whip in the Assembly, met the Jalpaiguri district magistrate and divisional forest officer.
“We have made written submissions to the DM and the DFO citing our fear. Our party is not against development but there is information that the character of the land in Lataguri was changed a number of times for the project. There should be thorough scrutiny to confirm that there has been no violation. If needed, we will knock on the doors of the judiciary and National Green Tribunal,” said Tigga.
DM Moumita Godara Basu said the state forest department could comment on the issue.
Vikas V., the DFO of the Jalpaiguri division, said the BJP delegation met him to allege that the project was coming up on reserve forest area. “But nothing is happening in the reserve forest area,” he said.
Ramesh Pandey, a vice-president of the Ambuja Neotia Group, said the land was procured from residents in 2007-08, and is outside the reserve forest area. At present, the total area involved is around nine acres.
“There is not a single inch of forest and tea garden land in the project,” said Pandey.
Mahua Gope, district Trinamul president, reacted to the BJP’s objections. “The BJP is trying to play politics. It should understand that purchase of land and other approvals were given when the Left Front was in power,” she said.