Indian steel baron's bid to buy mountain in Britain creates uproar
Posted on Aug 03 2014 | IANS
London, Aug 3 : Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has made a bid to buy a mountain in Britain sparking protests from the locals, media reported.
The London-based NRI businessman has bid over 1.75 million pounds (USD 2.94 million) to purchase "Blencathra" mountain, also known as Saddleback, lying in Northern fells mountain range in Britain's Lake district, the dailymail reported Saturday.
The Earl of Lonsdale, the local division, has reportedly accepted the offer and said he has been forced to sell the land to settle a 9 million pounds tax bill.
However, the locals have criticised the mountain sale move and have lodged their protest to prevent the historic 2,850 feet peak from falling into the hands of a foreign landowner.
Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of world's largest steel-maker ArcelorMittal and one of the richest Indians, also owns two of the most expensive houses in London and has a large stake in a premier football club.
A protest group named as "Friends of Blencathra" has lodged a counter bid using a substantial sum donated by British outdoor clothing label Berghaus.
The land sale would take six months to be finalised because the local authority, Eden District Council, is obliged to allow the group time to raise enough funds.
The Friends of Blencathra have offered 300,000 pounds less than what the Earl wants to earn from Blencathra, the report said.
Debbie Cosgrove, who chairs the group, said: "If someone buys the mountain it is unlikely they have charitable aims."
However, Martin Knowles, a local resident, said the buyer (Mittal) wants to preserve the mountain and has the money to pay farmers to repair the footpaths and wells.
"Whereas if the Friends scrape together enough cash, they will have no money to preserve it," Knowles added.