HC stays construction inside Koyna sanctuary | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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HC stays construction inside Koyna sanctuary

In an attempt to stop any further deterioration of the ecology inside Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bombay High Court has imposed an interim stay on construction activities in the protected forest area in the Western Ghats.

mumbai Updated: Oct 24, 2010 01:31 IST
Urvi Mahajani

In an attempt to stop any further deterioration of the ecology inside Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bombay High Court has imposed an interim stay on construction activities in the protected forest area in the Western Ghats.

For the moment, there will be no construction of tourist resorts, installation of windmills and tree felling.

The high court has also directed the government to take steps to remove encroachments from inside the notified sanctuary.

A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice DY Chandrachud has also directed the central government to inform the UNESCO Heritage Team visiting the Western Ghats that steps were being taken to ensure movement of unauthorised persons in the area or illegal activities was stopped forthwith.

The court’s directions came during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Satara-based activist, Nana Khamkar, seeking preservation of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, which has come under threat due to the government illegally permitting installation of windmills which requires the felling of trees.

According to a reply Khamkar received under the Right To Information Act from the range forest officer, Wildlife, Koyna, 500 to 550 trees have been felled in the area of 2.5 to 3 hectares in Koyna Wild Life Sanctuary at Navaja.

Also, 215 windmills and 10 resorts have come up in Koyna Wild Life Sanctuary without permission of the Indian Wildlife Board, the RTI reply stated.

“If such activities continue and encroachments are not removed, then the UNESCO Heritage Team, visiting the western ghats at the end of October, would not notify it (sanctuary) as a world heritage site,” Khamkar said.

Khamkar’s PIL also challenged the New Mahabaleshwar Project which is to be undertaken by the Maharashtra government with the view to decongest the twin hill stations – Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.

Government pleader SR Nargolkar informed the court that the government was not responsible for permitting installation of windmills in the sanctuary.

The decision is taken by the Maharashtra Energy Development Authority (MEDA). The high court has directed that MEDA be added as a respondent to the PIL.

The high court has directed the chief secretary to hear Khamkar on issues raised by him in the PIL and submit a report on the issue by the next date of hearing, on November 24.