Inquiry ordered into picnic held inside protected area of botanical gardens

Ananya Dutta

‘If any violations have occurred, adequate action will be taken’

KOLKATA: Director-General of Forests P.J. Dilip Kumar has ordered an inquiry into the incident of a picnic being held within the protected area of the 220-year old Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Gardens here on Monday.

“He [Mr. Kumar] was in the city for a routine visit, but when the matter was brought to his notice he ordered an inquiry into the matter. If any violations have occurred, adequate action will be taken,” State principal chief conservator of forests Atanu Raha told The Hindu.

The incident occurred on Sunday when the cafeteria owner allowed a canopy to be erected just outside the cafeteria premises, which operates within the gardens. A feast had been laid out for a party of revellers under the canopy, deputy director of the Gardens Sheo Kumar said.

Dr. Kumar, however, quashed media reports that the group had been allowed to cook in the protected area. The incident has kicked up a furore among green activists, who felt exotic species in the gardens were being threatened by such unchecked violation of rules.Cooking by visitors is allowed only at two designated pavilions, which include a couple of rooms, a kitchen and toilets, but this picnic was not held at either of the pavilions, Dr. Kumar said. “The cafeteria was started about three years ago and operates only during peak tourist season. The gardens are vast and visitors often need a place to rest, eat and drink water,” he added.

The gardens cover an area of 273 acres on the banks of the Hooghly. Established in 1787 by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kyd, this is the largest and oldest botanical garden in southeast Asia. The gardens are currently home to over 12,000 trees and shrubs belonging to 1,400 different species.

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