Etawah project: A year ago,MoEF had stopped all work following alleged Forest Act violations
A month after Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav himself wrote a letter requesting speedy approval for Mulayams dream project of setting up a Lion Safari in Fisher Forest at Etawah,the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given permission to start construction for the project.
On July 1 last year,taking note of alleged violation of provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980,the MoEF had asked the state to immediately stop all work and submit an action taken report within 15 days.
Now,the MoEF,in its letter dated May 3,has informed state Principal Secretary (Forests) to take action in the matter in accordance with the Master Plan/Management Plan for lion safari approved by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The CZA on its part approved the Master Plan on February 25.
The MoEF has,however,remained silent about the large number of trees of prosposis juliflora (vilayti babool) felled in 2012 by states forest department without approval.
While CM Akhilesh Yadav wrote to MoEF on April 3,2013,Chief Conservator of Forests Rupak De wrote a letter on March 5,2013 in which he mentioned that provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act,1980 do not apply in present case,as all activities regarding establishment of lion breeding centre and lion safari have been done in consonance with the directions of CZA.
In response to these letters,B K Singh,Director,MoEF gave the permission to start work at the proposed lion safari.
Following the clearance,states forest department had stepped up construction work at the proposed lion safari. Minister of State for Zoo Shiv Pratap Yadav will inspect the ongoing work on Saturday. We have started the construction work though on a small scale, De confirmed.
Mulayam had first mooted the proposal for setting up Lion Safari in 2005 when he was chief minister. A total of 150.83 hectares of forest land in Fisher Forest was to be used for the project. The state government had then approached the MoEF with a plea that the project will help in tourism activity and generate income for the local people. However,MoEF turned it down with the directions that the proposal could be considered only after the consent of the CZA. The consent never came and the Samajwadi Party lost power in the 2007 assembly elections and the BSP government showed no interest in the project.
Akhilesh,after assuming charge on March 15,2012,revived the project.
He allocated a sum of Rs 5 crore in 2012-13 and another Rs 20 crore in 2013-14. UP Housing Board has been appointed as the construction agency. Two pairs of lions,too ,have reached the state and will be later kept in lion safari.