A member of the state wildlife board has written a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, making allegations against the forests department for granting permission to a filmmaker to carry out a full-day safari in the Jhalana Leopard Reserve (JLR), even though such activities were suspended. In his letter, Sunil Mehta claimed that during the state wildlife board meeting, the chief minister explicitly directed a "ban on full-day safaris," a decision that received unanimous support from all board members.
“The objective behind this prohibition was to safeguard wildlife, as the incessant movement of vehicles throughout the day disrupts their natural habitat and compels them to vacate the area. Consequently, full-day safaris were banned across the state, in alignment with the chief minister’s orders.” - The letter reads.
Mehta made allegations that certain officials, disregarding the directives of the chief minister and decisions made by the wildlife board, allowed an individual to partake in a full-day safari by exploiting an unauthorized "back door" approach under the guise of film production. He criticized this maneuver, arguing that considering film production as separate from the safari category is erroneous.
The board member alleged that the authorities intentionally enforced fees from March 2023, instead of the designated date of April 1, 2023, solely to favor the individual, consequently leading to a loss of revenue. He claimed, “The entire process was expedited to favour this individual, a clear violation of the law. The person in question was granted unrestricted access to the parks using two safari vehicles from sunrise to sunset, in flagrant disregard of the chief minister’s instructions and the rules established by the wildlife board.”
The letter emphasized that in other wildlife sanctuaries and tiger projects, the duration of filming only surpasses that of tourism by a small margin of "ten to fifteen minutes." Mehta urged the CM to take necessary measures to address this issue and emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough investigation.
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