State government departments lock horns over Talala-Sasan road
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: The construction of a road between Talala and Sasan has led to a skirmish between forest officers and the contractor involved. The was contract awarded by the state government's roads and buildings department without the necessary permission from the forest department.
Most of the road skirts the Gir sanctuary boundary and a small part passes through the sanctuary. This tangle has exposed the lack of coordination between two department of the state government, which are now up in arms against each other.
The contractor was reportedly told by the roads and buildings department to build the road without approval from the state board for wildlife. The situation has now escalated to such a pitch forest department beat guards and workers of the contractors nearly came to blows a few days ago. This following a heated argument when the foresters told them to stop work as they did not have the requisite permission.
Officials said the contractor's men abused the officials. The contractor filmed the incident, and the video has gone viral on social media. Agitated forest department employees have reportedly threatened to go on mass casual leave.
The government cancelled the leave of chief conservator of forests, A P Singh, who was to proceed on a scheduled break for family commitments.
Singh said, "We have issued a notice to the contractor for violating guidelines and beginning work without the required permission. The road under construction was already existing and it is being widened on both sides. A proposal was sent to the CCF's office which was forwarded to the PCCF. However, permission to widen the road has not yet been approved by the state wildlife board."
Singh said any project near the sanctuary or the touching it has to be approved by the SBWL. Diversion of forest land for other purposes has to be approved by the national board for wildlife. In this case, the land where the widening is to take place was already with the state government. Hence, approval from the SBWL was needed.
A senior forest officer said, "In this case the roads and buildings department awarded the contract without getting approval from the SBWL. The officer said the department should not have awarded the tender in the first place. If they really wanted to issue the tender, work should not have been started.
N K Patel, who is in-charge of the state highway project at the roads and buildings department, said, "We awarded the contract as this was an existing road. We have applied for permission but will have to check if we have received it." Patel said he was unaware of the incident in question but would seek a report on it.