The Ministry Environment and Forests has issued a resolution vide their letter N. WLP/1093/1953/-1- Gandhinagar dated 30-01-1995 regarding the allotment of 50 acres forest land to Kankeshwari Temple Trust. The temple and the alloted land is in the heart of the Gir Forest which was declared as a Gir Lion Sanctuary in 1969 and the core part of the Gir area has been declared as a National Park .
The Kankeshwari Temple Complex is big enough having 30 residential premises where atleast 250 persons can comfortably stay. Twice a year on Navratri and Chitry festivals around 5000 pilgrims visit the temple in a day and around 2000 pilgrims are accommodated and also served free meals (prasad).
The entire are of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is classified as a Dense Forest Area as per the report of Forest Study, 1991 by the Forest Survey of India (Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests). The 50 acres of land in question and areas around have particularly high crop density and areas around have particularly high crop density and crown canopy cover of above 50% against as average of 40%. A random sample survey of two plots of 100 mts x 100 mts of the land in question has revealed that there are plenty of trees, trunks or bushes on them. The average number of trees per hectare of land in the area is estimated at 600 (Local Commission Report: Gujarat High Court).
50 acres of land has mutually been given to the temple pujari to plugh as Chavhak (See : The Bombay Land Revenue Code) in 1964 and not to the trust. Chav-hak cannot be transferred to another individual or a trust. No mention has been made of these 50 acres of land by the Government in its final award when it declared Gir as a sanctuary. The Government in its final award when it declared Gir as a sanctuary. The Government of Gujarat is considering only the 1963 report and purposely avoiding to consider the final report of 1968.
For granting 50 acres of land in 1994, Government of Gujarat has not sought permission from Government of India, which is required, and acording to the new amendment rules of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, no land which is declared as sanctuaries and as National Park should be diverted for other purposes.
I have visited the Kankeshwari Temple and also measured the area and noticed that the Temple Trust have encroached more than 0.29 guntha land and as per my knowledge, 4 times more land has been encroached in the name of pilgrims and religion. In the name of Gir Development poor maldharies mercilessly removed from the forest and their small huts were though destructive to the Gir habitat. In such circumstances can the Temple trust be permitted to construct guest houses? The coming up of guest houses will only lead to more tourism flow thereby increasing the biotic pressure on the land.
So, in order to protect the Gir Sanctuary which is the abode of Asiatic Lions and has a national importance, we (Nature Club of Sabar) in coordination with committee formed under the leadership of Dr. Kashyap Joshi, viz. Hon. Wildlife Action Committee and we are also a joining party in the said file application (alongwith my affidavit field on 23rd February, 1995) before the High Cour of Gujarat. I am happy to atate that our application is now pending for hearing with the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Coart.
NATURE CLUB OF SABAR
B/60, HARSHNAGAR SOCIETY
'D' CABIN, SABARMATI
AHMEDABAD - 380 019