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Delhi HC Raises Concern Over Wildlife Sanctuary Event, Seeks Compliance with Norms

Delhi HC Raises Concern Over Wildlife Sanctuary Event, Seeks Compliance with Norms

The Delhi High Court expressed its concern regarding the Forest Department's intent to organize an event within a wildlife sanctuary in the Southern Ridge area next month. In response, the court has requested authorities to demonstrate the event's compliance with established norms and regulations.

Justice Jasmeet Singh requested the Delhi Government counsel to present the file concerning the proposal for the 'Walk with Wildlife' event at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. He pointed out the potential presence of wildlife in the area with unspecified whereabouts, urging further clarity on the matter.

During Wednesday's proceedings, the court-appointed amici curiae raised the matter concerning the conservation of the Ridge and the eviction of encroachments within the area.

Justice Singh had then asked the government counsel to seek instructions, saying the sanctuary was not Masai Mara or Serengeti.

During the Court proceedings, the government lawyer reassured the court that the decision was made "at the highest level," adhering to all regulations. The event aimed to familiarize people with the sanctuary's diverse flora and fauna.

During questioning, an official present at the hearing acknowledged an inability to immediately provide the wildlife count. However, the official highlighted the presence of numerous animals within the sanctuary, such as eight to nine leopards, spotted deer, hyenas, and monitor lizards.

Justice Singh expressed deep concern regarding the event, particularly the cyclothon, describing it as a "very haphazard exercise." He highlighted the alarming absence of information regarding the  number and location of the wild animals in the sanctuary.

Amici curiae advocates Gautam Narayan and Aditya N Prasad contended that hosting such an event within a designated forest area was impermissible by law, citing prohibitions against such activities.

Narayan asserted that within a forest area, only vehicular movement was sanctioned, highlighting that the Union Government's eco-tourism policy didn't accommodate events of the nature proposed by the Forest Department. In response, the Delhi Government counsel mentioned that the department had facilitated the application process for individuals interested in participating in the event scheduled for December 9 and 10.

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