Railways wants retiring room in lion's abode
The Times of India City
SASAN : At a time when haphazard constructions in and around Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has triggered concerns about crunching space for Asiatic lions, a proposal by the railways to build a sprawling retiring room at the Sasan Gir station has raised several eyebrows.
Wildlife experts say that the retiring room is absolutely unnecessary and smacks of vested interests aimed at providing a cushy stay for officers at the picturesque station located inside the sanctuary.
The railways proposes to build retiring rooms on 8,000 square foot area at the station even as only two meter gauge trains operate in the day time and the need for night halt for passengers does not arise. The proposal recently came for discussion at the Gujarat State Wildlife Advisory Board which went ahead with a conditional nod that the facility would be for the use of railway officers and staff only.
"There are hardly four trains that come to Sasan station daily. The proposal for retiring room is totally unjustified as passengers don't need to take halt here as there are no connecting trains. We have to ensure that lion sanctuary remains intact," said Rohit Vyas, member of the board.
Lions have often been spotted sitting on the Sasan platform and there is movement of other wild animals round-the-clock near the station.
Railway officials have claimed that the facility will help generate revenue. But the conditional nod says that it would be for official use only. This shows that the intention is only to provide a luxurious stay within the forest," said Vyas, a recipient of Amruta Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award of the union forest ministry.
V C Soni, a wildlife expert and board member, said, "If at all such a facility is required, it can be developed outside the sanctuary area."