Uttarakhand Govt Seeks Transfer of Rajaji Forest Land for Kumbh

Such a proposal to use the national park land for non-forest activities has drawn sharp criticism.

1 min read

The Uttarakhand Forest Department has come forward with a proposal to transfer as much as 778 hectares of forest land from Rajaji National Park and the forest divisions of Haridwar, Narendar Nagar and Dehradun to the Kumbh Mela Samiti for nine months, from 1 September 2020 to 31 May 2021, media reports have pointed out.

The land “could be used to construct camps, parking, police check posts and health camps”, according to a letter by DJK Sharma, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttarakhand, and the nodal officer of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), accessed by The Wire.

However, such a proposal to use the land of a national park for non-forest activities has drawn criticism and has been seen to violate provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

Moreover, it also reportedly goes against the Environment Ministry's advisory, which mandates that “for non-forest activities, forest land can be given only for a duration of 15 days and it doesn't include protected forest land”.

For the approval to be given, an official of the Uttarkhand government has said “it may be considered as an exceptional case”.

“Kumbh Mela is a significant festival as per Hindu tradition and therefore, it may be considered as an exceptional case and can be given approval”, Subhash Chandra, additional secretary of the Uttarakhand government, has been quoted by The Times of India as saying in a letter to to the Environment Ministry.

(With inputs from The Wire and The Times of India)

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