After HC order, tigers to get back 15 hectares in Pench reserve

Big cats in the Pench Tiger Reserve will finally get back what was taken from them.  On the basis of a court order, the Irrigation Department has freed 15 hectares that a colony it runs occupies in the heart of the reserve.

After the November 19 interim order from the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, the Irrigation Department on December 6 handed over the colony inside the Pench Tiger Reserve to the Forest Department.

The direction came from a division bench of Justices B R Gavai and V M Deshpande on a writ petition filed by Kishor Rithe, a member of the Nature Conservation Society, Amravati. On April 22, 2002, Justice J N Patel and P S Brahme had ruled that no human settlements are permissable inside the Pench National Park, which is also a tiger reserve. However, even after 12 years, the colony was not handed over.

After the 2002 order, the chief secretary of Maharashtra had convened a meeting where it was decided that the Irrigation Department and Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board would keep the bare minimum area to maintain the Pench Hydroelectric Power Project.

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