The Karnataka Forest Department has ordered Jog management authority Shivamogga to apply for environmental and wildlife permits before starting construction of a five-star hotel in Jog Falls, a new set of documents viewed by The Indian Express.
Vijaykumar Gogi, Chief Wildlife Warden, Karnataka ordered the Shivamogga Wildlife Division to notify the user agency to apply for environmental and wildlife clearances for the same project.
The department acknowledged that the project site is only 2.7 kilometers from the Sharavathi Valley lion-tailed macaque sanctuary.
The Office of the Deputy Commissioner and Managing Director, Jog Management Authority had requested the diversion of 0.8536 hectare of forest land from Nadawada Talakalale village in Shivamogga district for the construction of the hotel instead of the guesthouse. existing PWD hosts.
“As the area is close to the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) and is within a radius of 10 km from the Sharavathi Valley Lion-tailed Macaque Sanctuary, environmental clearance is mandatory. Therefore, before commencing any development activity in the ESZ, it is advisable to obtain all necessary environmental clearances from the Standing Committee of the National Wildlife Council and the Karnataka Wildlife Council through Parivesh (Proactive and Reactive Facilitation by an interactive and virtuous one-stop environmental hub). “, we read in the letter of the chief game warden.
The development comes in the wake of opposition to the project being raised by wildlife advocate Giridhar Kulkarni who last year submitted a detailed explanation to the Additional Chief Secretary (Forests, Environment and Ecology), Department of State Forests, Karnataka Biodiversity Council and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on the ramifications of the project on ecology. Based on his objections, the MoEF&CC ordered the Karnataka State Government to take appropriate action. It has come to light that the Additional Chief Secretary (Forests, Ecology and Environment) Jawaid Akhtar has requested the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forestry Force) Sanjay Mohan on September 16, 2021 to carefully check the objections raised by Kulkarni to submit a report to the government as soon as possible.
The office of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Conservancy) and Nodal Officer (FCA) Rajiv Ranjan wrote a letter on 04 October 2021 to Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) of Shivamogga Cercle, Manoj Tripathi and the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) of Sagar Division to take appropriate action on this matter and submit the report urgently. He had also asked Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner KB Shivakumar, who is also CEO of Jog Management Authority, to provide the answer.
Major fauna found in and around the project area includes Semnopithecus entellus (Hanuman Langoor), Axis axis (spotted deer), Suscrofa (wild boar), Bos gaurus (Gaur), Ratufa indica (Malabar giant squirrel), Ophiophagus hannah (King kobra) and Malabar Gray Hornbill, Macaca Silenus (LTM), Pavo cristatus (Peacock) among others.
Besides the development of the hotel, there are plans to create a ropeway between the left and right banks of the Sharavathi River in front of the Jog waterfall. The state government has also decided to develop Jog Falls and surrounding areas with a dedicated transit hub, grand entrance, retail outlets, view bridges, center islands, and landscaping.
Kulkarni said any attempt to recommend the present commercial tourism project proposal would have a negative impact on the flora and fauna of the area. He said any attempt to recommend the present commercial tourism project proposal would be contrary to the guidelines issued by the MoEFC.
Earlier this month, the state cabinet decided to move forward with the development project on the Design-Build-Operate-Transfer (DBOT) model.
Kulkarni also mentioned in his objections that a similar proposal was rejected by the Union Environment Ministry in 2014, stating that the project was not site-specific nor was it in the interest of forest conservation and therefore had to be rejected now as well. The government of Karnataka in 2014 had sought prior approval from the Center for the diversion of 0.4046 hectares of forest land at the same location for development, tourist welfare and an Ayurvedic center.
The MoEF&CC in its circular states: “It has been brought to the attention of this office that many construction activities have commenced or are being considered with funds, particularly from the Department of Tourism, in the name of gradation/renovation of existing structures. or in other areas. name mainly to promote tourism. The central government will not accept any proposal for the diversion of forest land for the construction of dwelling or dwelling houses. The diversion of forest land for the construction of other buildings will also not normally be considered.