Pench irrigation colony must go
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has called for a status report on the relocation of an irrigation colony inside the core area of the Pench Tiger Reserve from the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) and the Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD).
The WRD had sought exemption from the relocation but the petition was dismissed by Justices Sharad Bobde and Filomeno Reis. A judgement passed on April 22, 2002 had ruled that no human settlements were permissible, a decision opposed by the WRD, which demanded two hectares of land to build quarters for their staff responsible for the opening and closing of the Totladoh dam gates. The court underscored the need for pristine, undisturbed stretches saying that the department could post temporary staffers to man the dam.
While, the WRD has returned half of the 15 ha. land to the Forest Department, their proposal for acquiring 5.50 ha. land for staff quarters in Paoni is pending. There are already 161 MPSEB and 47 state irrigation department quarters inside Pench, some of which serve alcohol and non-vegetarian cuisine, which is against park rules.