If the controversy around the printing of a wrong map in the official diaries was not enough,the forest department has been caught on the wrong foot. A state map with redefined boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries has been published without the approval of the authorised empowered committee appointed for rationalisation of sanctuaries by the Supreme Court and the Survey of India.
Himachal has 31 wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks. During 2008 the process of redefining their boundaries was undertaken. Certain villages were excluded and others included in the forest areas. It is learnt that the wildlife wing of the state forest department has published around 500 maps of the redefined protected area. The map also shows the states boundaries shared with the international border. However,the empowered committee has not yet communicated its approval for the new map.
The state government has asked for an explanation from the Principal Chief Conservator Forest (PCCF),Vinay Tandon who was the chief wildlife warden when the maps were printed.
Additional Chief Secretary Avay Shukla,who also holds the forest portfolio,said the approval was not taken from the authorities concerned before publishing the maps. In his reply the PCCF informed us that since the scale on which the map has been made is not big,there was no need for the approval of Survey of India. Moreover,the maps were only meant for official use of the forest officials and not meant for circulation, he said. The government has already withdrawn the maps,he added.
PCCF Vinay Tandon said since the state has got the approval from the National Board of Wildlife regarding the redefined boundaries,few maps were printed for reference of the officials. He said the map under question shows the old as well as the new boundaries.