In its fifth report , which was presented at the Gujarat Assembly Wednesday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has pointed out that due to the incorrect classifying forest land that was transferred by Adani Chemicals in Kutch for Mundra Port and SEZ by the department of forest and environment The company has paid the state government 58.64 million less.
The PAC has recommended that the company be able to collect the entire amount within three months, and also to initiate action against officials responsible for improperly classifying the property which results in loss for the state government, and “undue” benefit to the company.
In its report, the PAC which Congress MLA Punja Vansh leads referenced an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India that uncovered that there was an “undue” benefit of Rs 58.64 crore for the company due to incorrect classification of the land.
According to the PAC report, which is in connection with the proposal from Adani Chemicals Limited, the Central government had granted an in principle approval to allot 1,840 hectares as well as 168.42 acres of land within Mundra as well as Dhrab villages in the Kutch district. In the Supreme Court, in a ruling which was handed down on the 28th of March, 2008 identified the forests in India into six categories of situational as well as determining the Net Present Value (NPV).
The report says it was in the month of January the state government submitted the new scheme proposed by Messrs Adani to authorities from the federal government. The government was able to give approval. The Central government gave its approval in principle on February 9, 2009. According to the ruling by the Supreme Court regarding fixing NPV in accordance with six categories of forest located in Kutch fell under Eco Class II (with NPV of Rs 7.30 lakh per hectare) and Eco Class IV (with NPV of 4.30 lakh per hectare). 4.30 lakhs per hectare).
In December 2008 Bhuj, the conservator of Forests, Bhuj, in his inspection report, noted that the area in question was mudflat and that the creek was brimming with mangroves, according to the report. However, the report states that the deputy forest conservator (Kutch East) had categorized the property to be part of Eco Class IV and recovered the sum of 87.97 crores as the NPV from 2008.42-hectare in forest land from the firm.
The PAC report further stated that the forest and department of environment had in a letter sent to the committee stated that the land transferred is part of Eco Class IV.
The report also outlines its meeting on 25 November 2019, at which a representative from the department claimed the claim that the land is in Eco Class II. The report further states that the NPV of the land, according to Eco Class IV was determined in accordance with the 2008 ruling by the Supreme Court that was recovered from the firm after it was granted approval from the Central government.
The PAC documents, “The committee believes that instead of recovering NPV according to Eco Class II with Messrs Adani to facilitate the changing of use of forest land to Mundra Port and SEZ, the department has reclaimed the NPV according to Eco Class IV. The department’s decision has resulted in a reduction of Rs 58.67 crore less revenue being recovered for the government.”
It is suggested to take action against officials or officers responsible who have classified land in a way that is not appropriate and to recover NPV in accordance with Eco Class II from the firm within three months and notify the committee upon the recovery.