It was more than a decade ago when the forest department had decided to give the highway users in the region a pleasant break. They had acquired about three hectares of land with the help of the district collectorate,and spent about Rs 15 lakh to develop a zoological park named as Van Chetna Kendra.
Today,the place is in ruins. Its iron gate is locked and shrubs and weeds have grown all around. The stuffed miniatures of tribal people kept therein have developed several cracks and are gathering dust. Instead of having rare plants,shrubs,and trees as well as lawns,sitting
arrangements and food kiosk,as it was announced,the place is inhabited by seized vehicles laden with logs and grit.
The reason of the current awful condition of the place is the error the forest authorities made in selection of the land. The land acquired is not very far from the prohibited area comprising the airstrip owned by the Air Force.
The Air Force objected to the development of the park and as a result the work on the development of the Van Chetna Kendra stopped.
The objective of the park plan was to create awareness about the rare species found in forests. The authorities had made arrangements even to organise workshops and seminars at the place. It was also planned to keep some animals at the Kendra to attract people.
As Air Force people objected,the decision is taken to shift the Kendra. The process is underway and since the matter relates to land,we have to go by the district collectorate’s decision,” said Ajay Jain,the district conservator of forests,Chhota Udepur.
Surprisingly,nobody is aware how the land was acquired despite its proximity to Air Force base.
“The Air Force officials have said that they cannot allow a public place close to their base as security threat. Now,there is no other way but to pull down the entire set up and develop a new one at some another place,” said an official