No approval yet, but work on Great Canara Trails starts

No approval yet, but work on Great Canara Trails starts

No approval yet, but work on Great Canara Trails starts

Work on the controversial ‘Great Canara Trails’ is going on unchecked though clearance from national wildlife preservation bodies and the National Tiger Conservation Authority is yet to arrive.

The forest and tourism departments have planned the trekking trail that goes through the Kali Tiger Reserve, the Aghanashini Lion-tailed Macaque Conservation Reserve, the Bedthi reserve and elephant corridors in Uttara Kannada district. Work on the ‘Great Canara Trails’ began at Ghanasagali in the Kumbarawada wildlife zone, where notice boards have been put up. DH has seen pictures that show construction of temporary toilets and restrooms.

Green activists say the work being taken up by the Forest Department would harm the environment. The project violates the Supreme Court directions on tourism projects near tiger reserves. Clearance from the National Wildlife Federation is mandatory for such works, said Manoj, an environmental activist.

The action plans of both Bedthi and Aghanashini reserves do not mention the ‘Great Canara Trails’ and no clearance has been given for any such project. The department’s use of forest land for non-forestry activity violates the Forest Protection Act, 1980, and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, he added. Last year, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant had advised against using land near reserves for tourism.

Opposition from trekkers

Curiously, trekkers are also opposing the project. Pramod, a trekking enthusiast, said the government had evicted people near such reserves on the pretext of wildlife protection. “It’s wrong to harm the protected area for building a trail to entertain urban tourists,” he said.

B K Singh, a former chief conservator of forests, recently wrote an article against the proposed trail. The Forest Department is yet to take notice of opposition from its senior officers, Pramod said.