RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) over the objection raised against the construction of 621 houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) in the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve.
A division bench comprising of chief justice T B Radhakrishnan and justice Sharad Kumar Gupta directed the NTCA to respond by 10 April this year.
Sources in the NTCA told the New Indian Express that neither an approval was sought from them nor were they informed about such a plan on the Awas Yojana. For any tourism-related activity or the construction works inside the tiger reserve, the NTCA has to be informed and their consent obtained.
The field director of the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve S P Masih told TNIE that the plan to construct houses under PMAY-G may be dropped.
Earlier in January, the Chhattisgarh government had approved the construction of 621 houses after the high court served a notice to the state government on the issue.
These houses under Awas Yojana were to be constructed in protected areas despite the ruling that the Adivasis, living in the core and buffer zones of the tiger reserve, is to shift to other locations in future.
Activist Nitin Singhvi, who had moved the High Court questioning the state government’s plan, told the Express, “The construction of houses at the same location where the 19 villages exist inside the tiger reserve is a pointless plan and sheer wastage of public money.”
Around 160 km from Raipur, in the northwest of Chhattisgarh, Achanakmar wildlife sanctuary was established in 1975 and declared a tiger reserve under Project Tiger in 2009.
Consequently, 25 villages of Gonds and Baigas were to be relocated. Six villages were shifted in 2013. Recently, funds were sanctioned by the Centre to relocate three of the remaining 19 villages.