The Chhattisgarh High Court has dismissed the petition of Steel Authority of India Limited’s (SAIL’s) Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) seeking price relaxation for 921 hectares of forest land located in Kanker district. The decision was announced on September 5, 2019.
The Chhattisgarh High Court ordered SAIL’s BSP to pay the full price as per current market rates for taking possession of the 921 hectares of forest land.
The High Court has given one month’s time to the public sector steel maker to decide whether it is taking possession of the land and inform the same to the state and Central governments within one month.
If the petitioner decides to take possession of the land, it will have to pay the full price for the 921 hectares of forest land as per current rates, the court said, adding “if the petitioner fails to inform its decision to the state government within the given time frame, and does not pay the full price for the 921 hectares then the state government can amend the land lease agreement and the petitioner can take only 17 hectares of forest land for mine use.”
According to sources, SAIL’s BSP had filed a writ petition (no. 1405/2018) before Chhattisgarh High Court in 2018 seeking relaxation for taking possession of the forest land without paying the price as per current land rates.
The state government argued that if the petitioner wants to take possession of the land it would have to pay the full price. Otherwise, it would have to return the entire forest land back to the government.
Citing the decision of the Supreme Court of India T.N. Godavarman vs Union of India case, the High Court ordered the petitioner to pay the full price as per current rates. BSP is the flagship steel plant of SAIL.
~ Written by Shubham Rai, Assistant Editor, Steel 360.