Devotees throng shrines in tiger reserves despite SC order

Devotees throng shrines in tiger reserves despite SC order

Devotees throng shrines in tiger reserves despite SC order

Despite the Supreme Court order that tiger reserves should be cleared of all illegal places of worship, temples, however, seem to be springing up nonchalantly and drawing devotees in their hordes.

Thekal Dargah in Gundre Range in Bandipur Tiger Reserve saw thousands visiting the shrine on April 27 this year. When the Forest department officials raised objections, a former union minister from Kerala intervened to ensure the devotees sought blessings at the Dargah, according to Forest department sources.

Likewise, the department had to permit worship of Gundre Maramma in the same range on April 22.

Both are core tiger habitats where only forest activities should be allowed as per the apex court.

At Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, on April 21, the Masthamma Temple fair on Mysore-Mananthavadi Road became a grand affair with thousands participating.

The entire stretch of Balle was converted into a bazaar with the Forest department elephants decked up and participating in the festival. 

Hundreds of vehicles parked on both sides of the roads led to traffic jams. The Forest department is learnt to have hosted a lunch to the devotees.

Every other tiger reserve across the State is facing a similar situation. In Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple tiger reserve, it is learnt that certain communities are competing with each other to enter the forests, resulting in new temples being erected overnight.

In Bailur Range, a Basavanna Temple was constructed overnight at a ‘haadi’ called Nellikatti Mavathur in the last week of April. At Punujur Range’s Manakai Podu, a Jadeswamy temple was constructed under the cover of darkness.

Sources said several abandoned idols in various places over the years are ‘miraculously’ becoming temples and people are worshipping them.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Vinay Luthra, said he needs to look into allegations of people being allowed into the forests. 

“I was informed that there was symbolic permission given for the Dargah and other religious festivals. Very few people were allowed to worship instead of mass visitors. I need to look into the matter.”