A bar-and-restaurant is operating in the tiger reserve in Nagarahole National Park in utter violation of norms. One of the partners of the establishment is said to be a relative of Excise Minister Satish L Jarkiholi.
The Forest Department filed an FIR on July 12 before the H D Kote Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) against Kay Yess Resort owned by five partners, including Jarkiholi’s relative Y Annappa.
Conservator of Forests, Hunsur Wildlife Division, and Nagarahole Tiger Reserve director R Gokul have issued summons to all the owners — K P Babu Senan, S Manjula, B Narayan, Mohan Gowda Ramadas and Y Annappa — seeking a reply by August 3.
When contacted, Gokul told Express: “Opening a bar-and-restaurant in a tiger reserve is a serious offence as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.” The resort is located on 1.30 acres (Survey No 23 and 24) of Kadegadde village, 30 meters from the Bavali Gate on the Karnataka-Kerala border, which is within the Nagarahole reserve forest boundary. The resort is attracting a huge number of tourists, mainly from Kerala, posing a serious threat to the wildlife.
Sources said the resort owners are constructing another bar-and-restaurant at Machur village, which also falls within the tiger reserve. Forest authorities have written to the Deputy Commissioner not to issue licence to it and stop the construction.
The resort got permission last October from former Deputy Commissioner P S Vastrad, without a no-objection certificate from the Forest Department. Renewal of the licence is a power delegated to the Deputy Commissioner (Excise), who happens to be B Y Manjunath, a relative of both Annappa and Jarkiholi.
Manjunath reportedly renewed the licence despite Gokul asking him not to do so. Gokul wrote to the then Deputy Commissioner Rame Gowda, who sent the matter to the Joint Director, Excise, for “necessary action”. Manjunath said he has the powers to renew licences. Asked whether the bar owner was his relative, he said: “My relatives have been in the liquor business even before I joined the service.”
Justifying his decision to renew the resort’s licence, Manjunath said: “The government has given permission to many other resorts to promote eco tourism.”
However, when Express cross-verified, all resorts mentioned by him are outside the prohibited area.