Himachal gives in to oppn, offers new site to Hero Honda

Chandigarh, July 30 | Updated: Jul 31 2006, 05:35am hrs
Himachal Pradesh government has decided to offer an alternate site for the Hero Honda Motors Limited Rs 600-crore proposed plant at Nalagarh in Solan district.

The roll back came after the state government faced flak over the site that entailed felling of 50,000 small and big trees for setting up of the two-wheeler plant.

The turnaround came largely as the former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal demanded the cancellation of allotment of land in protected forests at Bir Plasi, Solan to Hero Honda.

In a letter to chief minister VB Singh, he claimed that the plant would wipe out the green cover and would be against the interest of the state, its ecology and hilly environment.

Earlier the single window clearance of state government had cleared the allotment of 1,815 bighas @ Rs 15 per bigha last month. The state government was working on forwarding the case for clearance to the Union environment and forests ministry.

According to sources, the decision for alternate site was pushed, as Hero Honda was also reluctant to take the controversial site due to the opposition from different quarters.

The company, which is planning to start production before March 2007 to avail the tax holiday, wants to stay away from the controversies, sources added.

Another incident that has fuelled opposition against the site was the recent death of divisional forest officer, Nalagarh who was dealing with the land deal.

The political parties have urged investigation to find out any nexus between the land allotment and death of the officer. Prem Kumar Dhumal alleged that the death was shrouded in mystery.

Sources in the state industry department told FE that state government has been encouraging industries to districts untouched by rapid industrialisation.

The state government wishes that the company now finalises site at Bilaspur district that has failed to lure industries in the recent past. Moreover the land prices at Baddi belt have skyrocketed and any site here would be incremental to state governmentcoffers, offical said.