Justice Biren Vaishnav has also sought the government and forest department’s answer on whether the desilting of the dam in the protected area, which is the last abode of Asiatic lions, required any prior permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden as per section 35(6) of the Wildlife Protection Act. The HC has sought the report by June 18.
The HC has also issued notices to the state government, the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), Junagadh’s top forest officials and the collector of Gir-Somnath district and asked them to file their replies by June 11 in response to a PIL, which has objected to the desilting of Singhoda dam in the Gir National Park, said petitioner’s advocate Nandish Thackar.
The PIL has contended that the Gir-Somnath district collector passed an order on May 8 for desilting of the reservoir without following any procedure of the law. “Permitting about 1,000 tractors per day inside the prohibited area would adversely affect the habitat of innumerable crocodiles in the dam and a pride of 10 lions residing in the area,” the petitioner had contended.
The petitioner cited section 35(6) of the Act which prohibits any destruction, removal or change in habitat of animals in national park without permission from authority from the Centre. If such a permission is granted, it should also contain particulars of vehicles to be used inside the reserved forest. Since there is absence of this permission for desilting the dam, the collector’s order for the same is required to be quashed, the PIL said.