City Reports

Forest officials violate ban on full-day jungle safaris in Jaipur; Complaint sent to CM Gehlot

Granting permission for filming from sunrise to sunset in Jhalna violates environmental norms and directly contravenes directives issued by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions.

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June 19, 2023, 11:41 pm

Jhalana Leopard Safari Wildlife and Tourist Destination in Jaipur

JAIPUR: In a blatant disregard for the ban on full-day safaris in Rajasthan, forest department officials have resumed conducting such safaris under the pretext of filming. Sunil Mehta, a Wildlife Board member, has lodged a complaint with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, highlighting the misconduct of these officers.

Mehta expressed his disappointment in a letter, reminding the Chief Minister of the explicit instructions issued during the State Wildlife Board meeting to prohibit full-day safaris.

The decision was unanimously approved by all members due to concerns about its adverse effects on wildlife. The continuous vehicular traffic throughout the day disrupts the natural habitat and forces wildlife animals to abandon their dwellings. As a result, your orders led to a complete ban on full-day safaris across the state.

However, certain forest department officials have recently granted permission to an individual for conducting full-day safaris under the guise of filmmaking.

This action blatantly violates your explicit orders and disregards the decisions made by the Wildlife Board, representing a “back door entry” through illegal means. Mehta drew attention to letter number: F 15 (NOC) 2022/ Vasu / Pramuvas/ 498 dated 14.2.23, which directly contradicts the Chief Minister’s orders and the State Wildlife Board’s guidelines.

The orders, issued by PCCF Half, incorrectly categorize film production as separate from the safari domain. Also, the applicable fee, originally scheduled to be enforced from April 1, 2023, was implemented prematurely in March 2023 to benefit this particular individual.

Consequently, the state has suffered revenue losses. The entire process was carried out hastily, with the sole purpose of benefiting this specific person through illegal means. This individual has been granted unrestricted access to the parks, using two safari vehicles from sunrise to sunset, all under the pretext of filming. These actions flagrantly violate the Chief Minister’s orders and the rules set forth by the Wildlife Board.

In contrast, other wildlife sanctuaries and tiger projects in the country allow filming for a maximum of ten to fifteen minutes beyond the designated tourism time. For instance, the esteemed wildlife filmmaker, Nalla Muthu, was also granted shooting time following similar guidelines at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Project.

The ban on full-day safaris was initially intended to ensure wildlife remains undisturbed throughout the day. However, when both categories of vehicles, tourists and filmmakers, traverse the parks all day, it becomes challenging for the wildlife to distinguish between the two and leads to unnecessary disturbance.

Jhalna Leopard Reserve, being a small park, hosts the shy leopard species. Consequently, granting permission for filming from sunrise to sunset in Jhalna violates environmental norms and directly contravenes directives issued by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions.

Additionally, it is imperative to conduct a thorough background check on the particular individual to whom this hasty permission was granted, as adherence to the established rules has been overlooked.

This situation warrants a comprehensive investigation into the actions of the officers who, in direct violation of your strict instructions and Wildlife Board guidelines, made this decision hastily and disregarded both the rules and your clear orders. It is essential to hold the culprits accountable and take appropriate action against them.

First published: June 17, 2023
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