Maharashtra's opposition NCP has alleged that the state's BJP dispensation was planning to hand over vast tracts of forest land to yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali group, a charge denied by the government.
"After (forest minister) Sudhir Mungantiwar met Ramdev, he said he would give 20 per cent, or 60,000 sq km of forest land to Patanjali for production of ayurvedic medicines. This is nothing but BJP's ploy to grab the forest land through Ramdev," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said here.
"Forest land cannot be given to any private individual or company under the law. But they have used forest committees for their malicious intent. If the government wants to promote ayurveda, it can call for bids through tendering and pick a company that guarantees the largest production," he said.
NCP will oppose the government's decision in both houses of the state legislature and take to the streets to protest, he said.
Mungantiwar, in his reaction, said the forest department had taken no such decision and it was only trying to ensure that farmers get a good market for their produce.
"Malik's comments show how ignorant he is. The forest department has no right to give forest land to any entity. We are only trying to create a market for farmers," the minister said.