Friday, June 12, 2015

HC sets deadline for Gir eco-tourism policy

Gujarat high court on Thursday directed the state chief secretary to finally notify the eco-tourism policy for Gir sanctuary by June 24 and place it before the court the next day.

The bench headed by Justice Jayant Patel refused to grant more time to the state government to finalize its policy after it failed to resolve the contradictions in the existing provisions. The court said that it had already granted one month's time to solve the issue regarding contradictions in the policy for granting permission for construction in the 2-km buffer zone around the sanctuary, which is the last abode of the Asiatic lion.

This issue arose when contradictions in the government policy were highlighted in two resolutions of June 25, 2009 by the forest and environment department, and of February 8, 2010 by the home department. While the forest department permits hospitality units built before a particular date to exist in the buffer zone, the home department issued a prohibitory order. However, the owners of hospitality units obtained NOC from local village panchayats and put up constructions.

To resolve the issue, the government formed an eight-member committee comprising secretaries, joint secretaries and commissioners from departments concerned to discuss and find solutions for regulation of eco-tourism facilities around Gir sanctuary.

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