SC to hear appeal from Rajasthan govt. on Nahargarh wildlife sanctuary
National Green Tribunal had ordered the ceasing of commercial activities in protected areas
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took on board an appeal filed by the Rajasthan Government against an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to shut down commercial activities in the notified area of Nahargarh wildlife fort and sanctuary from December 1.
A Bench led by Justice S. Abdul Nazeer issued notice to Rajendra Tiwari, who had got the closure order from the NGT in October. Mr. Tiwari was asked to file his counter and the court listed the case after eight weeks.
The court prima facie did not agree with the submission made by senior advocate Manish Singhvi, appearing for the Rajasthan authorities, that they would tone down the light and sound show at the fort. Mr. Singhvi said the government was also running a restaurant in the area for the past 30 years. He said commercial activities were restricted to providing refreshments for tourists.
The court questioned the idea of having a light and sound show in a protected forest area. It said Mr. Singhvi’s claims about the Government-run restaurant have to be examined. The Bench also had questions on the availability of alcohol in the forest area.
Restaurant in operation
The NGT had on October directed the Rajasthan Government to shut down restaurants operating there, saying that non-forest activities cannot be allowed without the Centre’s approval.
The NGT had classified restaurants and light and sound shows as non-forest activities incompatible with the objectives of the Wildlife Act.
“We direct that all restaurants operating in the notified forest area of Nahargarh Wildlife Sanctuary/ Nahargarh Fort be discontinued with effect from December 1, 2021. In case of any dispute the boundaries should be verified jointly by the Forest Department and Collector, Jaipur,” the NGT had said.
“We also direct that the light and sound programme in the area of wildlife sanctuary be discontinued from the said date. It is however made clear that this will not affect parking and entry of visitors into the Fort/Museum. However, the Forest Department will install noise barriers at appropriate locations to mitigate the impact of noise generated by the vehicles,” it had added.
The NGT had also directed the Forest Department to regulate the number of vehicles and locations of parking.
The Forest Department may also regulate such other activities as may be consistent with the objective of the Wildlife Act and Forest Conservation Act in the notified forest and wildlife areas, the NGT had said while directing the Collector of Jaipur to ensure compliance with its order.