CHENNAI: In what could be one of the major goof-ups by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, land classified as forest land was proposed to be developed as an integrated residential neighbourhood and was announced in the Assembly in 2014.After nearly four years and conducting a few surveys, the project to develop 146.88 hectares of land as an integrated residential neighbourhood has been dropped and now the government is looking at developing the area as an eco-park to provide lung space for the Chennai mega-region and also to protect the land from encroachment.
But this too requires the sanction of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and it is learnt discussions are being held in this regard. However, a top forest official refused to divulge details when Express contacted him.According to information available with Express, the state government officials were in a fix as soon as it was brought to their notice that the land was classified as forest land. As per information furnished by Kancheepuram District Collector, 102.65 hectares land out of the total 146.88 hectares is classified as forest land.
Since the announcement was made, the then Housing Secretary urged reclassification of the identified land from kadu (forest) to tharissu (barren land) and wanted the land to be alienated in favour of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority to implement the project or alternatively in the event of lands being classified as ‘kadu poromboke’.Once the proposal was sent to the Kancheepuram District Collector for acquiring the land, he shot a letter to the Revenue Secretary, who, in turn, had requested the Additional Chief Secretary and the Commissioner of Land Administration to get the remarks of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
According to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Forces), “As per Section-2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for diversion of forest land, which includes reserved forest, protected forest or any area recorded as forest in government records irrespective of ownership, to non-forestry purpose, prior approval is required from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.”
Besides the forest land, the area also has a waterbody known as Peria Eri (big lake), which is located in a parcel of 23.67 hectares. Interestingly, this was not included for acquisition and was proposed to be maintained by the CMDA. The then Commissioner of Land Administration also sought to know the impact that the residential neighbourhood scheme would have on the Peria Eri. As the project has been disbanded, no action has been taken against the official on whose behest the plan was announced.
Sources indicated that the CMDA should fix responsibility on officials for misguiding the state to make such an announcement causing loss to the state exchequer. While the government is looking at building an eco-park on any land, which doesn’t come under the Forest department jurisdiction, sources indicated that an enquiry would be conducted into stalled projects to fix the responsibility on officials for delays.
The integrated residential neighbourhood scheme was announced in the Assembly on July 14, 2014
It was to be implemented in 146.80 hectares of land
It was later found that 102.65 hectares of land has been classified as forest poromboke land.
As per Section-2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for diversion of forest land to non-forestry purpose, a prior approval is required from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest
The state government plans to drop the announcement made under Rule 110
Plans afoot to develop eco-park to provide lung space for the Chennai mega region
A huge lake too
Besides the forest land, the region also has a waterbody known as Peria Eri (big lake), which spans an area of 23.67 hectares. Interestingly, this was not included for acquisition in the proposal