Road built on forest land in Chhattisgarh, claims Congress

Raipur, March 19 (IANS) The opposition Congress in Chhattisgarh Tuesday said in the assembly that a 3-km long road was constructed under national rural jobs scheme on a forest land in Rajnandgaon district without the approval of the forest department.

The Congress alleged that even villagers felled thousands of trees, including teak plantations, to make way for the road built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
“This not only caused heavy loss to the state exchequer but also opened new opportunities to encroach on reserved forest land. Instead of checking this encroachment, the local officials of the Forest Development Corporation remained mute spectators,” Congress members Bhajan Singh Nirankari and Mohammad Akbar said in the assembly.
The construction work started Jan 21 and was completed within 15 days, showing collusion between officials of the Forest Development Corporation and the panchayat department, the opposition alleged.
In his reply, state Forest Minister Vikram Usendi rejected the charges and said that a narrow road existed for years and was used by villagers. He said that the existing road was widened without the approval of the Forest Development Corporation and that its length was 700 metres and not 3 km as claimed by the members.