Remove foundation structures, Deputy Speaker Bopaiah tells forest officials
‘It was a project funded by the Union and the State Governments’
Police told not to allow tourists into the sanctuary after 6 p.m.
TALACAUVERY (KODAGU DISTRICT): Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly K.G. Bopaiah on Friday called upon the Forest Department officials to stop the construction of cottages in the Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, near the pilgrim centre of Talacauvery.
He told them to demolish the foundation structures raised there. The Government would view the developments seriously, he warned.
The construction of cottages, on the lines of a resort, would hurt the religious sentiments of the devotees, besides violating the Forest Conservation Act and Wildlife Act, Mr. Bopaiah said addressing devotees, forest officials and presspersons here.
Conservator of Forests Virendra Singh told Mr. Bopaiah that the work had come to a halt. Mr. Bopaiah told the police not to allow tourists to Talacauvery after 6 p.m. to continue the centuries old practice. Assistant Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sridhar and Range Forest Officer (Wildlife) Ravindra Kumar, were present.
Mr. Bopaiah went round the foundation structures raised in the sanctuary and asked Mr. Singh who gave permission for the construction of such cottages at a place as revered as the Talacauvery. Mr. Singh replied that it was a project funded by the Union Government and a portion of it by the State Government, amounting to Rs. 1.17 crore. The share of the Union Government was Rs. 1.13 crore. Permission for the construction was granted by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) with the Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) as the implementing authority.
Narayanachar, president of the temple committee, told Mr. Bopaiah that the source of river Kannika (that joined the Cauvery and the Sujyoti at Bhagamandala) originated from a tank situated near the construction area and defilement could go against the religious feelings of the devotees.
K.J. Bharath, a member of the committee, complained that a few resorts had come up on Bhagamandala-Talacauvery Road and one of them was built on revenue land. Following this, Mr. Bopaiah asked the Madikeri tahsildar to examine and submit a report to him.
Even forest officials and staff should not stay in the existing inspection bungalow after 6 p.m. and the staff quarters located a small distance away should be shifted to another place, Mr. Bopaiah told Mr. Singh.
Mr. Singh, who explained the features of the project, said it was to promote eco-tourism.
Two other similar projects were on the anvil, including one at Gopinatham. Several citizens of Bhagamandala, who had gathered at the Inspection Bungalow here, asked whether the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had granted permission for the project.
They also asked why permission was not obtained from the Bhagamandala Gram Panchayat.
Mr. Bopaiah said that the Chief Secretary of the State recently issued a circular stating that no construction activity should be taken up within wildlife sanctuaries without approval of the Union Government. He was yet to get a copy of the letter.
When it was said that a salient feature of the project was “mountain biking which is not only an adventurous aspect from Talacauvery to Bhagamandala, but also a good sight seeing experience”, everyone who had gathered there took exception to this aspect of the project.
Mr. Bopaiah said he discussed the issue with Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Thursday and he would again brief Mr. Yeddyurappa over today’s developments.
The Chief Minister is said to have expressed concern over the project not being brought to the notice of the panchayat and the people.