NGT bans shooting at police firing range near Van Vihar in Bhopal

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2016 17:34 IST
A tiger at Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal. (Mujeeb Faruqui/ HT file)

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday banned shooting at police firing range allegedly functioning on government land near Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal and posing a threat to wildlife and migratory birds.

Van Vihar, a zoo and rescue and breeding centre for endangered species in central India, was declared as a national park in 1983. It covers over 4.4 sq kms.

The tribunal said Sachin K Verma, the counsel for the state government, sought time to place on record the decisions taken in the committee headed by the chief secretary.

The NGT said that till “such time as the replies and documents are not filed” by the authorities, the state government is “restrained from using the firing range”.

The next hearing in the case will be on March 17.

In December, the tribunal issued notices to the Madhya Pradesh police, Central Zoo Authority and the forest department in this case filed by Ajay Dubey, the founder secretary of environment organisation Prayatna.

Dubey said SAF 25 Battalion was holding over 94 acres which was to be allotted to Van Vihar National Park.

“I welcome the NGT direction banning shooting in the firing range near Van Vihar as it was affecting the wildlife in the national park,” he said.

A committee was formed in compliance with the Supreme Court orders to declare the surrounding areas of Van Vihar National park as an eco-sensitive and eco-fragile area.

“One of the directives of the committee was that the firing range situated near the park should be shifted to any other place and permission should not be given to establish the same in 3 km of the park,” he said.

Barbs fly during NGT hearing

During the hearing at National Green Tribunal, there was a heated exchange of words between counsel of the state government Sachin Verma and justice Dalip Singh, said lawyers who appear in various NGT cases.

Verma said the very first date of appearance he had apprised NGT that the matter was pending in government files between forest and police department since 1996. Verma said that Justice Dalip Singh was ready to give time but said he would not allow the firing range to operate. “Then I apprised him that firing range is neither within the ecologically sensitive zone nor the applicant has sought any such interim relief. But Justice Dalip Singh dictated the order. I pressed for taking my legal objection on record. Then he became furious and said he will not take my submissions on record,” he said.

HT couldn’t get Dalip Singh’s version.

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