JLR resort continues operations in violation of green norms

JLR resort continues operations in violation of green norms

Environment Ministry had ordered demolition of Devbagh resort in 2005

JLR resort continues operations in violation of green norms

 It’s not just private resorts or hotels nestled in pristine, luxurious locales of the State that are found in violation of environment norms but nevertheless continue operations.

For the last seven years, the Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), a subsidiary of the Tourism department has also been found flouting all rules and carrying out commercial activities at its beach resort on Devbagh Island.

The State-run beach resort on the island near Karwar  had run into trouble with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 2004 for having violated Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules by setting up permanent boarding and lodging facilities within 70 mt of the High Tide Line (CRZ 1).

The MoEF had subsequently ordered the demolition of the resort and recommended action against the violators (tourism department and JLR) under Sections 15 and 17 of the Environment Protection Act.

While the State Environment department claimed that it has done its bit by serving notices to JLR, the corporation on the other hand justified its operations stating that the department had not pursued the matter with it. 

JLR Managing Director Anur Reddy told Deccan Herald that JLR had not evicted as the Environment department had not shown any seriousness. “I agree that there might be violations on part of JLR.

The land was handed over to us almost 15 years ago. But, the department had remained quiet all these years. JLR received a notice in September 2011 and we have replied to it. But, nothing really has happened after that. We are ready to take action if the department pursues the matter,” he added.

Sources in the Environment department conceded that the government had not given a go-ahead for the demolition of the property as it would also have to initiate action against officials in the Tourism department. As a result, the matter had been “kept pending,” the explained.

Pristine location

The Devbagh beach resort, one of the top revenue generating properties (after the Kabini and Bandipur properties), is located amidst a casuarina grove on a shallow and private beach where River Kali merges with Arabian Sea attracting scores of tourists.

The island had also caught Nobel Laureate Rabindranth Tagore’s imagination where he had penned a poem and also his first play.

The violation was first noticed by the Additional Director, South Zone, MoEF, who during an inspection in November 2004 had noted that “purely commercial activity was being carried out in an area classified as CRZ 1.”

In a subsequent report, the officer stated that JLR had not obtained CRZ clearance, and the permanent boarding and lodging facilities had been erected in clear violation of the rules.

Following this, in March 2005, the Joint Director  of the MoEF had directed the Karnataka State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) to remove the illegal constructions and initiate action against violators by intimating the National Coastal Zone Management Authority. MoEF had also recommended that the land be resorted to its original state.

In June 2005, KSCZMA had directed the Regional Director, Environment, Karwar to conduct an inspection, which revealed that the structures were very close to the High Tide Line and that permanent structures — three cottages; three log huts with thatched roof; two tents with cement flooring; kitchen; boat shed; dining hall and bar; and a generator room, had been constructed.

As per the agreement signed between the Forest department and JLR in August 1997, JLR was given consent to set up an eco-tourism and nature camp by constructing only temporary structures. 

The Forest department had handed over the two hectares of land in Survey No 1185 (A) with a condition that JLR would use only jungle wood and bamboo to erect the structures. It was also instructed not  to carve out any new roads.