THE MULAYAM Singh Yadav government has decided to scrap another decision of former Chief Minister Mayawati. After renaming Mahamaya Nagar as Hathras, the State Cabinet has approved the Forest Department’s proposal to de-notify Ambedkar Birds Sanctuary in Kunda in Pratapgarh.
The exercise is aimed at giving back the Beti pond to Food and Civil Supplies Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya. The sanctuary was developed on the pond, which was allegedly under the illegal possession of Raja Bhaiyya.
Mayawati, while slapping POTA on Raja Bhaiyya in 2003, had also ordered acquisition of the pond.
The State Cabinet has decided to forward its recommendation to the Congress-led UPA government for de-notification of sanctuary. The approval of Central Wildlife Board headed by the Prime Minister is necessary for de-notification.
However, in view of continuing hostility between the Chief Minister and the Congress, the possibility of acceptance of UP proposal appears to be bleak. The pond is spread over an estimated area 1200 acre in nearly five km.
After taking back pond from Raja Bhaiyya, the Mayawati Government had spent Rs 1.25 crore on the development of the sanctuary that included construction of guesthouse, watchtowers and erection of barbed wire around the pond. The sanctuary was under the control of the Forest Department. Now, the government has finally planned to ‘return it with interest’ as a senior forest officer put it on Saturday. But it would only depend on the response from the Centre.
With the state assembly election approaching fast, the government was under pressure from the Thakur lobby to rush through the exercise. Sources said that the government had planned to hand over 581 hectares land including the pond which was major sources of income for Raja Bhaiyya.
During Raja Bhaiyya’s days of imprisonment, the then district magistrate Mohd Mustafa, now blue-eyed boy of Urban Development Minister Mohd Azam Khan, had gone whole hog against the Kunda royals on the instructions of Mayawati.
Apart from seizing the pond, Mustafa had also cancelled 23 illegal pattas of land in fake names which were under Raja Bhaiyya’s possession.