Permission refused for Vijay Rupani's programme at Kankai
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department has denied the trust of the Kankai temple — which is located inside Gir National Park — permission to hold a yagna in the sanctuary and erect pandals for a May 6 function that was to be attended by chief minister Vijay Rupani and several BJP ministers.
The office bearers of the trust said that they have informed the chief minister that as they won't be able to set up shamianas for his meeting and do not have permission for a large number of people to enter the sanctuary along with him, he may cancel his visit for darshan at the Kankai temple.
The Gujarat forest department on Thursday evening refused the Kankai temple trust permission to hold the yagna in the sanctuary and erect pandals.
Environmentalists had opposed the ceremony on the ground that it would harm wildlife in the sanctuary. Narendra Jani, vice president of the Kankai temple trust, said, "A meeting was held on Thursday evening and the officials made it clear that the trust cannot be permitted to use sanctuary land for their function. We were to install pandals for the CM's meeting outside the temple premises, but the forest department refused us permission. As we failed to get permission, we called up the chief minister's office and told him to cancel his visit as the department had refused permission for the large gathering that would be there if CM was to visit along with his cabinet ministers."
Chel Joshi, the trust administrator, said, "This is the first time that we have been denied permission. In 2015, we had held a similar programme and were given permission. We have permission to even stay the night inside the sanctuary, but the department is not letting us do so."
A senior forest officer said the department had information that several thousand people were going to be part of the function and officials said that buses with tourists or a large gathering could not be permitted within the sanctuary. "The trust wanted to carry out a yagna in the sanctuary area. This is summer time and a yagna could be dangerous, it would be a disaster waiting to happen," the officer said.
The officer, who asked not to be named, said that senior officials held talks with senior ministers and it was decided that permission to set up shamianas should not be given. The officer said that because of the hue and cry on social media and by NGOs, the CM called off the programme.
The Gujarat high court had issued a notice to the state government and the forest department in response to a PIL objecting to the state government's decision to allow up to 50 pilgrims to stay the night in the Kankai temple, which is inside Gir National Park and sanctuary, the last abode of the Asiatic lion.
A Rajkot-based NGO, Wildlife Conservation Trust, filed the PIL opposing the government circular issued in September 2017, by which permission has been granted to the Kankeshvari Jeernodhar Samiti to have 50 devotees spend nights inside the sanctuary.