Gujarat HC issues notices on plea challenging policy on Gir sanctuary

Gujarat HC issued notices to the state and central governments on a plea challenging the 'legality' of Gujarat's eco-sensitive zone policy on the Gir forest.

PTI April 26, 2016 21:53:04 IST
Gujarat HC issues notices on plea challenging policy on Gir sanctuary

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the state and central governments on a plea challenging the "legality" of Gujarat's eco-sensitive zone policy restricting commercial constructions within 10 sq km peripheral buffer zone of Gir lion sanctuary.

The notice was issued by a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi after the petitioner, owner of a Saavaj Resort, claimed the state government had no authority to formulate such a policy under Environment (Protection) Act as such power rests only with the union government.

Gujarat HC issues notices on plea challenging policy on Gir sanctuary

A lion in the Gir forest. Reuters

The government had prepared the policy in question in response to a suo motu petition filed in the HC in 2014 against illegal and haphazard constructions in and around the reserved forest areas.

The policy prevented construction activities for commercial purposes within 10 sq kms peripheral buffer zone of the sanctuary. The government also banned setting up flood lights and electric fencing within the area.

The policy, however, could not be enforced as the matter is still pending before the HC.

The petition on Tuesday challenged the "legality" of the policy, contending the government has contradicted itself on the issue through two separate resolutions issued by the Forest Department and the Home Department.

In its resolution issued in June 2009, the Forest department had permitted hospitality units constructed before 2009 to continue within the buffer zone while the Home department had issued a prohibitory order in 2010.

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