Members of private clubs in Yeoor Hills will be able to take their cars into the forest even after sunset when they go for parties this New Year’s eve.
The Bombay high court on Thursday vacated the stay on entry of vehicles into the notified forest area, which is a part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, after sunset. The high court had on December 9, 2009 restricted the entry of vehicles from Madhuban gate to Yeoor village, a popular picnic spot in Thane district.
On Thursday, a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Kathawalla kept the 2009 order at abeyance until January 6, 2011, when the case will be heard next the next. The court was hearing a petition filed by Golden Swan Club, which is located in Yeoor village, seeking that members be allowed to take their vehicles into the club premises after 7pm.
Prasad Dhakepalkar, senior advocate for the club, said the club has been functioning since 1991 and has at least 1,000 members. The club is 1.6km inside Yeoor village and it uses only 600 meters of the access road that passes from the national park’s forest area, Dhakepalkar said.
“If the authorities allow public transportation and private vehicles in Yeoor village, they should also allow members to use their private vehicles,” Dhakepalkar said. Subhash Oak, advocate for the adivasis of the village who had filed the public interest litigation against the entry of vehicles, opposed the club’s petition the authorities had imposed a restriction on private vehicles after sunset.
Additional public prosecutor, Molina Thakur, also opposed the club’s petition saying that it uses around 1.5km of the road. “If private vehicles go after the sunset, it will disturb the wildlife inside the park,” Thakur said.
Dr PN Munde, conservator of forests and director of the national park, filed an affidavit saying private vehicles should not be allowed in the area after sunset in order to protect wildlife.