Controversy over Shimla's ultra-luxury housing project



Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh government is under attack for an ultra-luxury housing project here that opposition parties say is being carried out in complete violation of environmental and land laws.

The main opposition party Congress has already demanded scrapping of the project in Kanlog, Shimla. It has alleged that the upcoming cottages are located in a thick forest area and the builder has felled dozens of trees overnight - something the builder denies.

Now the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is showing favouritism towards Bemloe Development and Infrastructure Company which is setting up the luxury cottages.

"We will continue to stage protests at the site since the project is illegal. It has not only violated environmental laws but also land transfer laws," CPI-M state secretariat member Tikender Singh Panwar told reporters.

CPI-M has also alleged that Bemloe Development was a proxy for Delhi-based real estate giant DLF.

A large number of CPI-M activists reached the project site Sunday and stalled work for several hours.

A spokesperson for Bemloe Development said no tree has been felled and the company has started construction work after taking necessary permission from the government.

Last week the controversy generated heat, with Mayor Madhu Sood accusing civic Commissioner A.N. Sharma of issuing a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the company in a day's time.

"The NOC to purchase 6,650 sq m land in the heart of the town for building 24 cottages is in itself a violation. The builder has even axed dozens of trees to ensure a road up to the housing complex," Sood, who is backed by the Congress, told reporters.

She took reporters to the project site to highlight the plight of residents who will be affected by the project.

State Congress president Kaul Singh said since Shimla is facing a water shortage, besides traffic chaos, such projects would only add to the woes of the people. "The party would even start direct action to stall the work," he said.

Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Virbhadra Singh, who was in Shimla last month, alleged that top state political functionaries were involved in illegal property transactions and were promoting realtors.

IANS