HC notice to KIOCL over leasing out tourism infrastructure

 The High Court recently ordered notice to the chairman and managing director of KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd) and Alvas Kudremukh Nisargadhama in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition contending that KIOCL has sub-leased 30 cottages within the Kudremukh National Park (KNP). 

The petitioner, Wildlife First, has said that the Supreme Court passed an order closing the commercial mining.

Despite that, KIOCL was trying to create rights over the leased out area within KNP, over which it had no legal control.

In April 2014, KIOCL invited Expression of Interest for leasing out tourism infrastructure in Kudremukh. Subsequently, the petitioner alerted the State government about KIOCL’s activity.

The Assistant Conservator of Forests, Kudremukh wildlife sub-division, inspected the area.

Report submitted

In his report, he recorded that KIOCL has sub-leased/handed over 30 buildings (cottages) and the guest house - Alvas Kudremukh Nisargadhama. The report said that Alvas were carrying out renovation and repairs of the said buildings on survey numbers 97 and 77, which have been mutated in favour of the Revenue department.

The entire Kudremukh township is an enclosure within the boundary of KNP and thus attracts all provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is part of the Kudremukh Eco-sensitive Zone, but till date, KIOCL has not vacated the leased out area.

The petitioner said high resolution Google Earth Pro Satellite Imagery were captured, which prima facie established that the guest house and the buildings were located on the said government land within KNP.
No action taken

Despite the petitioner submitting a memorandum to the government, Forest department and the Chief Wildlife Warden, requesting them to stop construction and renovation work on government land within KNP, no action was taken.

Aggrieved by the inaction, the petitioner approached the court, seeking direction for restraint and not to construct any commercial health resort within KNP.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice Ravi Malimath ordered the notice and adjourned the hearing.

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