Rajasthan government in dock over sanctuary encroachment


Jaipur : A committee constituted by the Supreme Court has sought explanation from the Rajasthan government on reported encroachment by some people in the Bhainsrodgarh Wildlife Sanctuary allegedly with political patronage.

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"The committee has sought a reply within three weeks on the basis of a petition filed by R.K. Somani, chairperson of the NGO Samajik Nyay and Vikas Sansthan," Mahendra Singh Kachhawa, counsel for the petitioner, told IANS here.

He said the NGO in its petition had alleged that some people with political patronage had encroached upon the 3,000-hectare area of the Bhainsrodgarh sanctuary, some 300 km from here.

"These people are using the land for carrying out anti-forest activities. Mass plantation has been carried out while a few of them have even constructed sheds with electricity and water connections," the NGO said in its petition.

The petitioner has requested the committee to order the removal of the encroachment and punish the culprits.

"The forest department had started to probe the encroachment matter but it was stopped in between on account of an official state government communication," the NGO claims in its petition.

The committee has sought a reply from the state government and asked it to file an affidavit in connection with official letters asking that no action be taken against the encroachers.

"The state government has been asked to reply as to whether these letters are fake or real," Kachhawa said.

The committee has also warned that if encroachment was taking place with political support, then the matter would be taken very seriously.

Bhainsrodgarh Wildlife Sanctuary was notified as a sanctuary in 1983. It houses wildlife such as the panther, wild boar, chinkara, fox, four-horned antelope, jackal, hyena and sambhar deer.

The government has time and again been criticised by animal lovers for not doing enough for the state's wildlife. For instance, the world famous Bharatpur bird park is virtually bereft of its winged visitors because of lack of water. The Sariska tiger park is also known to have lost all its tigers to poachers.