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Encroachment around Corbett: Hotel owners file fresh plea in HC

The hotel and resorts owners have approached the high court with a fresh application with modifications seeking relief from the proposed action against them

dehradun Updated: Jul 15, 2018 22:38 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Nainital
Uttarakhand News
The HC had constituted a four-member empowered committee on June 14 to check and verify on ground level encroachments of land around Corbett Tiger Reserve.(HT File)

The hotel and resorts owners have approached the high court with a fresh application with modifications seeking relief from the proposed action against them after authorities and an empowered committee listed out alleged encroachments made by them around the Corbett tiger reserve.

Surendra Pal Singh, general secretary of the Corbett hotels and resorts association, said hotel and resort owners, who were most affected by the ongoing anti-encroachment move, a few days back approached the HC with a modification application against HC’s earlier order.

“But the court refused to entertain it saying that decision on the application should be listed before the same division bench which is already hearing the matter,” he said.

Vipul Sharma, one of the counsels of the Corbett hotel and resort owners in the case, said they on Thursday approached the high court with modification application against HC’s June 20 order in the case.

“But the court said the same bench which is already hearing the matter, will look into the application and as such it should be listed before the same bench,” he said.

On what will be the points they will raise before the court, Singh said authorities should first officially establish the extent of the Kosi river, which will make it clear to what extent encroachments have been made or not made.

In its June 20 order, the court said: “As and when complaint/FIR is lodged by the forest authorities, same shall be promptly registered and inquired into and investigation shall be brought to its logical conclusion, resulting in putting up of challan without any inordinate delay to safeguard the forest land from unscrupulous people.”

In its June 19 order, the HC directed the principal conservator of forests to register cases against all the persons who have encroached upon the forest land under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Indian Forest Act, 1927, within three months.

Last month, the Uttarakhand high court directed authorities concerned to fix the compensation/damages to be paid by the hotel and resort owners around Corbett Tiger Reserve in Nainital and Almora districts for encroachments and raising unauthorised constructions on the revenue and forest land by taking into consideration the tariff charged by them from the date of construction of their resorts till date as per their income tax returns.

The HC has also ruled that the cost of demolition of unauthorised structures be charged from the hotel and resort owners. These directions were issued to the district magistrates of Nainital and Almora districts.

The directions were given by the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mayank Mainali, chairperson of the Ramnagar based NGO, Himalayan Yuva Gramin Vika Sanstha in 2012.

The petitioner had highlighted the environmental concerns in the wake of the construction of hotels, resorts and other properties around Corbett Tiger Reserve.

On June 1 this year, chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh in his affidavit had submitted before the HC that 44 resort owners around Corbett Tiger Reserve had encroached revenue and forest land in Nainital and Almora districts.

Of the 44 resorts, 30 had encroached upon the revenue land while 14 had encroached the forest land, including the catchment of the Kosi river, according to the petitioner.

On June 14, the HC had constituted a four-member empowered committee to check and verify on ground level encroachments of land around Corbett Tiger Reserve. The committee submitted its report to the court on June 18, listing the encroachments around the Corbett.

First Published: Jul 15, 2018 22:38 IST