Hearing the first-of-its-kind case on tiger movement in and around Bhopal, the MP high court on Monday has issued notices to the Central and state governments on a PIL demanding them to declare the forest areas around Bhopal as reserved forest.
The high court, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, maintained that as tigers have been frequently spotted in these areas since 2009 the areas in and around village Kathotiya in Bhopal should be earmarked as reserved forest for tiger habitat.
The Central and the state governments have been directed to respond to the notices within four weeks.
Notices have also been served to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and state forest department on this issue.
In the PIL, Dubey has opposed the proposition to translocate tigers from Bhopal to any other tiger reserves of the state and demanded implementation of the recommendations of a high-level committee, constituted in 2012 after a tiger was poached in Kathotiya forests, close to Bhopal.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Dubey said instead of shifting tigers to some other forest habitat, it was better to develop forest areas of Kathotiya, Kerwa and Kaliasot as tiger habitat.
“There is a provision under section 36-A of Wildlife Protection Act to enable the tigers to create habitat for them,” he said, while referring to the translocation of a tiger caught in Bhopal to Panna Tiger Reserve on October 29.
Dubey said the forest authorities translocated the tiger without permission from any competent authority. He said, the forest department authorities also ignored the fact that recently one of the tigers in Panna had tested positive for the canine distemper virus (CDV). A letter by the regional director of the tiger reserve to the principal chief conservator of forests, Bhopal, dated September 8, also referred to the presence of the virus in Panna.
Dubey has also urged the court to look into the encroachments on the forest and revenue land close to Bhopal. Dubey said the Kaliasote, Kerwa and Kathotoya areas that fall in the narrow corridor area from Ratapani to Bhopal, should be declared a conservation reserve unit, adding that a proposal in this regard was pending with the state government since 2011.