File photo: Ranthambore National Park
JAIPUR: An earthmover, roaring and clanging its iron bucket, enters deep into the critical tiger habitat (CTH) of Ranthambore National Park (RNP) through a passage created by breaking the protection wall to reach a hill and start mining in broad daylight.
The sound of the illegal work in progress echoes in the area and is surprisingly not heard by the forest staff who are responsible for protecting the reserve.
Allegedly in connivance with the forest staff, the illegal mining lobby has been continuously moving earth and stones in Bhadlav area of Kundera range of RNP. The acitivity going on, unhindered by law, is not only destroying the ecology of the park, but also posing a serious threat to big cats.
‘Forest dept violated wildlife act’
“The local contractor of Boori Pahadi area, who has been given the work to construct an anicut outside the reserve, broke the protection wall and is illegally extracting stones from the tiger reserve. A trench has also been dug on the forest land. Such activities cannot occur without the patronage of forest officials,” a source in the department said.
When TOI contacted the RNP administration, the officials were in the denial mode. Ranthambore Tiger Project field director Manoj Parashar said, “The protection wall has been punctured at two-three places and stones are being taken to repair the wall.”
The administration’s clarification did not go well with green activists who claimed that the mining of stones inside the reserve was a violation of law.
Green activist and law student Tapeshwar Singh Bhati said, “The forest department is setting a wrong precedent and violating Section 29 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. As per the rule, even the forest department cannot destroy, exploit or remove any wildlife, forest produce from a sanctuary of tiger reserve or destroy or damage or divert the habitat of any wild animal.”