HC Pulls Up State Wildlife Board For Indecisive Sitting Over Proposed Resort

| Updated: January 22, 2022 5:20 pm

The matter of a hospitality resort being developed on the border of the Gir sanctuary in Amreli has become the bone of contention between the Gujarat High Court and the State Board for Wildlife. 

Last year, on November 26, the HC had directed SBWL to take an appropriate decision and guide the state government “after giving an opportunity of hearing to all the parties concerned.” 

The SBWL, it seems, took the order lightly and is yet to formulate its response on the plan for a proposal seeking wildlife clearance for Wildwoods Resort, the hospitality project.

The issue pertains to the construction of a 165-hectare resort by Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Private Limited (WRRPL), an Ahmedabad-based real estate firm, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government in 2009 during the Vibrant Gujarat Investor’s Summit.

On Friday, a division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and VD Nanavati took the case for hearing after counsel Megha Jani submitted before the court that a final decision was not made by the SWBL “on the ground of time constraint.” While the SBWL meeting was held and WRRPL appeared before the committee with a detailed representation, a decision on the representation was deferred, the counsel added.

The minutes of an SBWL meeting, convened after 14 months on December 22, 2021, and accessed by The Indian Express, record: “A detailed presentation depicting all the important facts of the issue was presented before the board members. After that, the concerned party was also given an opportunity to make a presentation and present their case. Looking at the complexity of the case, it needed detailed deliberations, but because of time constraints of the chairman it was decided to deliberate upon these issues in the next SBWL meeting.”

This was the first meeting since September 2020, and the first to be chaired by Bhupendra Patel after being sworn in as CM. The Chief Minister is the ex-officio chairman of SBWL.

However, addressing assistant government pleader Chintan Dave, Justice Pardiwala remarked, “The board (SWBL) has no time to look into the order passed by the high court? Are we asking you to take a particular type of decision? At least they should come to know where they stand. If they are here with a begging bowl since 2009, so should you not (take a decision)? If you say yes, they will go ahead with the project, if you say no, they will walk out.”

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