The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued notices to the state police, forest department and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) while hearing a petition related to the police shooting range near Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal.
The petition alleged that the police shooting range, allegedly set up on the forest department land, was posing a threat to wildlife and migratory birds in the park area.
The petitioner, Ajay Dubey said that SAF 25 Battalion was holding more than 94 acres of land, which was to be allotted to the national park. The land was being used by the battalion as a shooting range. Dubey said that the green panel admitted to his petition and issued notices to the Commandant, 25 Battalion SAF, the Van Vihar National Park authority, forest department and the CZA seeking their replies on the issue.
Dubey, the founder secretary of Prayatna, an organisation working for environmental protection, said Van Vihar is a national park, zoo, rescue centre and breeding centre for endangered species in Central India. “It was declared as a national park in 1983 and covers over 4.4 sqkm. Although it has the status of a national park, Van Vihar has been developed and managed as a modern zoological park following the CZA guidelines.”
Dubey said a committee was constituted in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders with regard to declaring the surrounding areas of Van Vihar National park as an eco sensitive and eco fragile area. He said one of the committee directives were that the shooting range situated near the park should be shifted to any other place and permission should not be given to establish the same within 3 km radius of the park boundaries. “But the directive was never complied,” he said. “Due to the firing in the shooting range, the noise creates adverse effects on the wild animals and there is a possibility that any wild animal could get shot,” Dubey added.
He also drew the green panel’s attention towards media reports that the authorities were going to start a Lion Safari in Van Vihar. In the petition, Dubey has urged the NGT to direct the authorities to transfer the land in possession of the police department to the Van Vihar National Park so that the wild animals of the area can be saved and the proposed lion safari could be developed.