Resort under construction near wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra
Construction of a commercial resort is allegedly going unabated in the vicinity of Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Gondia district of Maharashtra in contravention of rules.
The resort is being built just four kms from the Pitezhari Gate of the sanctuary since sometime, right under the nose of the forest authorities in the area, sources said.
Under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, no construction work can be carried in the 10 kms radius of protected forests for tourism. For any type of construction, a no objection certificate from the National Board for Wildlife (New Delhi) or the revenue department is mandatory.
Also, under the ecotourism norms, no work for enabling tourist activities can be done within a radius of 2 km of reserved forest.
Recently, the central government had called for expanding the Nagzira sanctuary area by including some forest development corporation land and territorial forests and develop it as the 'New Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary', but the under construction site would pose a hurdle in way of it, sources said.
It also proposed a tiger corridor connecting the way between Pench Tiger Reserve, Kanha National Park, Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, Navegaonbandh National Park and Tadoba Tiger Reserve.
The resort is being constructed over five acres of land, reportedly acquired from a tribal, the sources said.
The work is going on at the site with the use of generators, iron, concrete and digging work, sources said, adding that more than five times tigers have been sighted near the construction area and on May 27, earlier this year, a bison was allegedly killed near the site.
After the matter came the light, the members of Gondia Nisarg Mandal met the concerned authorities and asked them to take steps to stop the work immediately.
When contacted, deputy conservator of forests (Bhandara), Yashbeer Singh, said that since the site in question is a private property, they are "helpless" in taking any stringent action.
"Couple of times we have sent our officials there but no one has been found there. As the place lies under eco-sensitive zone, we are making efforts and have asked the district collector to stop the ongoing work. We have also pasted a notice at the site asking the concerned persons to stop the work," Singh said.
However, Bhandara Collector Sacchindra Singh said they were unaware of any such request from the forest department.
The collector said he has to see first whether the concerned forest authorities have taken any action or not, and only then they will be able to comment on the issue.