BENGALURU: With approval still pending from the state forest department and the National Board of Wildlife, two villages of Hemmadaga and Degaon have been provided power in the name of development within the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary limits. However, the forest department has sent a notice to the power company and also initiated the process to question forest officials who allowed this illegal work to be taken up.
About 160 electric poles were erected from Hemmadaga till Degaon (October-December, 2016) in the wildlife sanctuary while for another three villages of Holda, Mendil and Krishnapur, HESCOM had applied for approval. But this happened only when the matter came to the notice of PCCF (HoFF) who warned them it attracted the provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 as well as Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and asked them to submit the proposals as per MoEF guidelines. Surprisingly, in their proposal, HESCOM submitted even for ‘electrification work for Hemmadaga and Degaon villages’ for which it has already provided connection illegally.
Speaking to Express, Belagavi DCF Basavaraj Patil said, “I have issued a notice to HESCOM and they have replied citing it is for drinking water purpose. But I have not accepted this and sent them another notice last week. All due procedures have to be followed and if not all the 160 electric poles will be removed.”
“In all our meetings, I have told HESCOM to follow rules but they sat silent all this time. They have to submit more records and documents to PCCF for doing this work and after this, get approval from the National Board of Wildlife. These are protected areas and if it is being used for non-forestry purposes, there are procedures and rules that have to be mandatorily followed. I have also sent notices to the Assistant Conservator of Forests and Range Forest Officerfor allowing this electrification work to be taken up without approval,” he added.