Armed with the recent Supreme Court order, the state forest department on Monday ruled out handing over five of its rest houses to Uttarakhand Eco-tourism Development Corporation Ltd (UEDCL).
“In compliance with the apex court order we can’t hand over five of the rest houses located in our Lansdowne forest division to the UEDCL,” Chief Conservator of Forests, Manoj Chandran, said.“The court order gives the entire control of forest rest houses (FRHs)and inspection bungalows to the forest department and, therefore, it is impossible to hand them over to any other authority,” Chandran said.
The UEDCL had sent a request to the forest department about three months ago seeking control of Laldhang, Sendhikhal, Kolhuchaud, Sneh and Goolarjhala forest rest houses located in Lansdowne forest division.Chandran, who is also the nodal officer for forest land transfer in Uttarakhand, had returned the request to UEDCL due to some objections.“However, with the apex court’s order the chapter is closed forever. We can’t now give control of our FRHs to any entity in any form,” Chandran said. Welcoming the order, Chief Wildlife Warden DVS Khati said it will further strengthen wildlife conservation efforts.Disposing of a writ petition on alleged misuse of forest rest houses for a variety of activities, the apex court on July 5 issued an order giving total control of these facilities to the forest department.
“Forest rest houses /Inspection Bungalows are facilities created for camping of forest officers primarily for discharge of their duties connected with conservation, protection and management of forests and wildlife.“These Rest Houses have very limited number of rooms. Therefore, the control of Forest Rest Houses, including their reservation, shall under all circumstances remain with the Forest Department,” a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta had said.The order was issued in the light of guidelines framed by central empowered committee for control and maintenance of forest rest houses and Inspection Bungalows located inside Forests.
News credit :TribuneIndia