Permits to resorts in protected forest areas under scanner

Permits to resorts in protected forest areas under scanner

The sensitive issue of granting permits to resorts near national parks and protected forest areas has come under the scanner with the High Court on Wednesday observing that the government needs to have a standard rule — either grant permit to all, or ban them.

The observation comes in the wake of a petition filed by R Ram, owner of Water Woods Resorts located at Karapur village in HD Kote, outside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Nagarahole.

The petitioner contended that the resort had been operational since 1999 and was carrying out tourist activities like taking visitors inside the national park. He also contended that they followed all norms related to conservation of wildlife and forests and offered eco tourism to national and international tourists.

The petitioner said they had been granted a lease of three years to visit specified areas of forests and this was extended once, after paying the required tariffs. When the government came out with the Wildlife Tourism Policy in 2004, it issued an order stating no resort was to be located in the park, wildlife sanctuary or its enclosures.

In 2005, the government issued a notice ordering closure of the petitioner’s resort by January 5, 2006. But the resort was issued daily permits from 2006 to 2010. From January 20, 2010, however, the government physically stopped the operation of the resort without any notice or passing any order.

The petitioner contended that he did not break any rule as the resort was situated about five km from the park, whereas many resorts situated only a km from the park were allowed to continue their operations without any restrictions.

The petitioner had contended that physically stopping their operations without any notice amounted to arbitrary action  and violated Articles 14, 19 (1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner sought directions from the Court directing the State not to prevent them from carrying out tourist
activity.

Police security

The High Court has directed the police to extend the security being provided to businessman H M Farooq for another four months.

The Lokayukta had trapped Y Sampangi, MLA, on a complaint by Farooq. Sampangi was caught red-handed allegedly while accepting a bribe. A petition by Farooq alleged that Sampangi threatened him to withdraw a complaint filed against the latter. He had submitted that despite repeated requests, he was not provided security by either the State police or the Lokayukta police.

The High Court had directed the police to provide him security. The Commissioner of Police had taken a deposit of Rs 1.2 lakh to provide him security for a certain period of time, which expires on June 26. Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar directed the police to continue the security for another four months, free of cost.

Notices to DC, PWD on road over lake

Alarmed at the Public Works Department’s (PWD) move to widen a road by filling up an adjacent lake, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar on Wednesday issued notices to the Principal Secretary of PWD and the Deputy Commissioner of Gadag district.

The matter of contention was a road that is being widened and repaired between Balehosur and Gajendragad in Gadag district.

The petitioners Fakiresh, Bheemappa and others had approached the High Court seeking a stay contending that an adjacent lake was being filled up and the road was being constructed over it.

Hearing this, the Bench wanted to know whether PWD intended to go over the lake by constructing pillars or by filling up the lake. “We will not allow you to destroy the lake,” the Bench said and directed the PWD to inform the Court, how the road was being constructed.

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