Now, forest chief conservator writes to Maharashtra govt: Return land given to ARAIhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/now-forest-chief-conservator-writes-to-maharashtra-govt-return-land-given-to-arai/

Now, forest chief conservator writes to Maharashtra govt: Return land given to ARAI

District forest officials say they can offer land in the industrial belts to ARAI.

OUTRAGED AT 55 hectares of forest land being given to the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) for testing their vehicles, the environmental activists and the state’s Chief Conservator of Forests, Jeet Singh, have written a petition to the state government, seeking the land be reclaimed, and launched a drive to increase awareness among people.

“I have forwarded the letter to reclaim the reserved forest land to the state government and many NGOs have supported this move. Ultimately, the status of the land will be decided by the state environment department and the Central Environment ministry,’’ said CCF Jeet Singh. The recommendations states that the ARAI can keep two hectares out of the 55 hectares of land. The remaining 53 hectares should be returned back to the forest as ARAI has made no use of it since 2009 and even if they do use the land, it will destroy the trees in the area.

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Singh’s recommendation largely focuses on how the “reserved forest” land should remain so for afforestation activities .

The residents around that area and the members of citizens’ group, Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti, have also launched a campaign on the social media supporting Singh.

The residents have written to the MoEF to agree to his recommendations. “The Vetal tekdi is one of the few green spaces left in the city. It should be protected,” states the petition. Pune district forest officials have said that they can offer several hectares of land in the Wadgaon Shinde or Chakan industrial belt, which can be given to ARAI for testing their vehicles.