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MP govt flouted green norms in starting ecotourism?

 MP govt flouted green norms in starting ecotourism?

Close to 100 development works carried out by the Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism Development Board at a cost of over Rs 7 crore have come under the scrutiny of the Accountant General's office for flouting green norms.

Close to 100 development works carried out by the Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism Development Board at a cost of over Rs 7 crore have come under the scrutiny of the Accountant General's office for flouting green norms.

The AG office, which acts as Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) distant arm to scrutinise states' work, has inspected various projects done by the MPEDB between 2005-06 and till December 2011.

According to its report, various ecotourism activities like construction of rest houses, homes, jungle camps, huts, approach roads, cycling activities and wilderness camps are among 99 works, either going on or completed, on which Rs 710.65 lakh (Rs 7.1 crore) has been spent.

The work includes construction and ecotourism activities in forest and national parks areas. The documents do not show that prior permission under Forest Conservation Act was obtained before starting these works, the report, which was accessed through RTI by activist Ajay Dubey, said.

In its report which was sent to the MPEDB, the AG office has taken note of various online portals through which bookings were made to rest houses in various forest areas under Indore, Hoshangabad, Dewas, Chindwara, Jhabua, Raisen and Chhattarpur districts for promotion of ecotourism.

Prior permission to start ecotourism activities in these areas were not taken from the Centre, the report said.

The report, which was prepared early last year, is still awaiting response on the objections raised by the AG office, according to the documents accessed by Dubey.

A reminder was also issued in March this year to the MPEDB  to expedite the response to the objections raised in the reports and send it back to the AG office, the document said.

"No permission was taken under the Forest Conservation Act by the MPEDB to start activities in the name of eco tourism. The state government has flouted all norms and caused damage to the environment," Dubey claimed.

He said a notice has been sent to the state and central government (Ministry of Environment and Forests) to take immediate action on this.

The MPEDB was constituted to offer nature trails, safaris, adventure sports, camping and bird watching among others.

first published:July 07, 2013, 14:13 IST
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