Staff Reporter

Team inspects land belonging to Forest Dept.

TAMBARAM: After an inspection of alternative land handed over to the Forest department by other government departments and private agencies, Shobana Rao, Deputy Conservator of Forests for Karnakata, Tamil Nadu and Goa Region, on Thursday said diversions and violations of provisions of the Forest Conservation Act in the State were "very low."

The Union Government officer was briefing reporters after inspecting the land given to the State Forest Department by the National Highways Authority of India at Unamanchery near Vandalur. The team checked whether the agencies, which took the land from the Forest department, were complying with norms when they returned some other lands in return, Ms. Rao said.

Ms. Rao noted that the National Highways Authority of India had given 4.5 hectares of land in exchange for 2.5 hectares it acquired from the State Forest Department for constructing the Chennai Bypass that connects Irumbuliyur on National Highway 45 and Madhuravoyal on NH 4. Similarly, the Home Department had handed over 1.38 hectares to the Forest Department in exchange for 0.69 hectares it acquired from the latter for construction of a State Police Academy at Unamanchery.

The Mahindra Group had given 6.5 hectares of land in Aappoor village near Chengalpattu after it took 1.85 hectares of land from the Forest Department to gain access from the GST Road to its IT Park in Maraimalai Nagar.

The Forest Department had also given 0.28 hectares of land to Chennai Metrowater to enable it lay the Veeranam water supply pipeline.

She added that the Forest Department did not seek alternate land when it handed over land measuring less than one hectare for providing drinking water and health amenities. However, the norms varied when it came to land for commercial use, Ms. Rao added.