Matheran police went on to seize the Honda CRV ferrying Nita Ambani. Vehicles aren’t allowed to ply in Matheran with the environment and forest ministry declaring the hill station an eco-sensitive zone in February 2003. As per police sources, Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani, This apart, she’s also part of multiple Reliance ventures alongwith being the chairperson of Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. Police sources confirmed that Nita Ambani was in the CRV at the time of the incident this weekend, and “After the incident, Nita Ambani was escorted by Reliance officials back to Neral.”
Visitors to Matheran are required to park cars at Dasturi point, after which one needs to trek or ride on horseback or hand-pulled rickshaws for 2.5 kms to reach Matheran town centre, or one can take a toy train from Neral in Navi Mumbai. The attempts are to protect the rich biodiversity of Matheran.
The Honda CRV was at first asked to stop when it tried going up a dirt track (restricted zone) leading to Matheran. The Honda CRV driver, Sudhir Shinde has been booked as this is a non-cognisable offence under section 15 of the Environment Protection Act in Matheran, and other sections of the Motor Vehicles Act. If found guilty, the punishment meted out would be a maximum five years imprisonment term, and a fine of Rs5 lakh.
Inspector-general of police, Konkan region, Parambir Singh had this to say. “The driver ignored him and sped past till the vehicle was stopped at a police checkpoint ahead on the road. The driver, Sudhir Narain, got into an argument with the policemen on duty and was taken to Matheran police station along with the car which was registered under RIL’s name.” He went on to add, “Nita Ambani’s driver was booked for forcibly entering the prohibited area. The driver has said in his statement that Nita Ambani was inside the car at the time of the incident. The driver has been booked under section 15 of the Environment Protection Act as per a complaint registered by forest officials and under the Motor Vehicles Act by the SP of Matheran.”
Superintendent of police, RD Shinde, Raigad, had this to say. “The vehicle has been detained pending investigations for verification to find out who is the owner of the vehicle, who as per the Environment Protection Act requires to be booked too.”
In reference to whether Nita Ambani too would be booked under the Act, Param Bir Singh had this to say. “On the complaint of the superintendent of Matheran, we have registered a case and have booked the driver. Further probe in the case is on.” There has been no confirmation from a Reliance industries spokesperson.
What is most amazing here is not just the fact that the driver flouted norms that are applicable to ne and all, but also the fact that Mrs. Ambani had to have had no objection to it. With their relationship with Matheran being strong, there’s no way that she wasn’t aware of the situation, and but obviously, the driver would not have been doing so despite her objection. So, it would be fair to assume that she never had a problem with what was going on.