CEC seeks report on sprouting of resorts in forest reserves

Curtailing movement:Complainant says that illegal establishments are coming up in forest areas identified as elephant corridors.— File Photo  

Seeking a report on the mushrooming of resorts and other activities in the reserve forests in five districts of the State, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) issued notice to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) in Bangalore on Thursday.

The CEC has instructed the PCCF to provide details about the resorts (including Jungle Lodges), restaurants and other activities in the reserve forest regions of Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Madikeri and Hassan districts.

Based on a complaint filed by Mandya-based RTI activist K.R. Ravindra, the CEC has taken up an investigation into the matter. It has also issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of the State, departments of Forests and Natural Science and the Managing Director of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. According to the complainant, the State-run Jungle Lodges and Resorts, allegedly violating the Supreme Court order, is running a resort in the reserve forest area in Dhanagur in Malavalli taluk.

Also, the complainant has observed that fishing camps at Bheemeshwari and Doddamakali are illegal.

When Doddamakali village was identified as an elephant corridor, the village was shifted to another place in 1908. However, according to the complainant, Jungle Lodges and Resorts is running the resort without obtaining necessary permission from the Forest Department, which is mandatory in the same region that falls under Dhanagur reserve forest area.

Such activities are also thought to have exacerbated the man-animal conflict in the area. The Forest Department has observed that elephants, which created havoc in Mysore last year, were from the same region. Later, the State government constituted a committee to identify the places to dig a trench across the forest area to prevent such possible incidents.

The ‘illegality' of the fishing camps was revealed when the committee, headed by senior IFS officer B.P. Ravi, visited the place and verified the documents. However, Mr. Ravi was transferred soon after. Later, Mr. Ravindra had filed a complaint in the Supreme Court.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Ravindra demanded clearing of all illegal establishments from the reserve forest areas. He also urged the authorities concerned to stop all activities, including fishing from the regions.