Raising A Ram Temple
India Today|December 07, 2020
The Centre and the Rajasthan government are working to denotify 646.56 hectare (ha.) of the Bansi Paharpur forest and Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary in Bharatpur district to ensure a steady supply of pink sandstone for the upcoming Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Rohit Parihar

On November 12, the assistant min­ ing engineer of the district’s Roopwas block, where a part of the 20,600 ha. Sanctuary falls (the other part falls in adjoining Bayana block), wrote to the collector about denotifying the forest land after a quick survey. Senior forest officers say they do not recall any sanc­tuary land being denotified since the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into being, adding that it will face scrutiny from the judiciary and activists. To begin with, the mines department will apply to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) for denotification along with a fee of Rs 6 lakh per ha. and supplementary details of the replacement land to be handed over to the state forest depart­ment. The department will examine the application and make a recommenda­tion to the Centre for its consent.

The sanctuary, first notified in 1985, gets its name from a dam at Bare­ tha, built over the Kukund river in the 19th century to supply water to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary 45 km away, and the Bansi­Paharpur village, which lends its name to the pink sandstone exclusive to this area. The area has a few natural water bodies and is notorious for illegal mining, extortion and shelter­ ing of dacoits. Also, unlike the state’s other wildlife sanctuaries, there is little to identify the place as a sanctuary—not counting the migratory birds—not even a designated entry gate. But subsequent to the Supreme Court order in 2006 in Goa Foundation vs Union of India, a December 2018 notification of the MoEFCC identified an eco­sensitive zone around the sanctuary and banned non­forest activity there.

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