Tribune News Service
Mumbai, May 20, 2019
Just days before the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into effect last month, the Maharashtra government handed over forest land that is part of a tiger corridor to a private manufacturer of hand grenades and ammunition.
According to state forest department officials, nearly 88 hectares of forest land which is part of the tiger corridor near the Bor-Pench-Melghat tiger reserves have been handed over to Solar Industries India Ltd for setting up the ammunition manufacturing facility.
Though the land does not fall within the tiger reserve, at least half-a-dozen tigers are known to inhabit the forest area, officials here said.
The company has been given permission to chop down nearly 1,800 tree in the actual project area of around 5 hectares, official said. The rest of the forest land in possession of the company has been classified as a safety zone.
Sources say, the company had sought allotment of the forest land since it already has an ammunition manufacturing facility at Chakdoh. Though the company had requested for the forest land nearly a decade ago, the Maharashtra government had sat on the proposal following opposition from environmental groups.
The government’s own National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had classified the forest land as part of the tiger corridor. Apart from the big cat other wild animals also moved on this land en route to water bodies, according to officials.
Meanwhile, officials said the company has undertaken compensatory afforestation elsewhere in the state.
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