The state government intends to sell islands inside the Jawai Leopard Conservation Reserve (JLCR) in the Pali region to private parties for 50 years so they can build and run tourism enterprises, allegedly in breach of environmental standards. Environmentalists and forest officials are upset over the idea, which seeks to draw about Rs 25 crore.
One property and three islands near the Jawai dam are reportedly up for auction, according to the tender paperwork. On May 4 and 5, the state-run Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project Corporation Ltd (ERCPC) is expected to begin accepting technical bids for a Rs 8.26 crore project. Subsequently, the qualified parties are expected to submit finance bids.
"The islands will be leased in a phased manner and the state plans to earn Rs 25 crore," a source said.
More than 200 crocodiles and other aquatic animals can be found in Jawai Dam, the largest in western Rajasthan near the Thar. According to environmental activists, the proposed projects will be located inside the leopard reserve, which is also home to wolves, chinkaras, sloth bears, and other wildlife.
"Land conversion is also banned within 1km of the reserve. Now, developing the islands and carrying out construction inside the core reserve will destroy the entire ecosystem and leopard habitat. The government is allotting (leasing out) islands instead of protecting wildlife." Pratap said.
"We will examine the case. If it's not suitable as per law, we will not go ahead with the project." - minister Mahendrajeet Malviya
"The department is not aware of the project" while voicing opposition to the plan. "The region is part of the leopard reserve and construction will not be allowed." - A senior official
The government also intends to lease out islands at the Mahi and Bisalpur dams for 50 years through auctions for tourism projects totaling more than Rs 17 crore. Over 21 hectares, the islands are dispersed.
Source: Times Of India