Corbett not to entertain safari requests, stay in tiger reserve by VIPs

The officiating field director of Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) Sanjiv Chaturvedi has issued an order that the Corbett administration will no longer entertain any request/communication from people holding influential positions seeking permission for safari trips or stay in the tiger reserve.

The order, however, will not be binding on state guests such President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Rajya Sabha chairman, deputy chairman planning commission, finance commission chairman, three army chiefs and cabinet secretary who are entitled to such facilities on private and official visits ( under list 1). HT has a copy of the order. Under the rules for state guests in Uttarakhand, there is also a list 2, under which government functionaries are treated as guests when they are on official visits.

The order issued by Magsaysay award winner Chaturvedi says, in future “such requests are not to be taken cognisance of at all and the same has to be returned immediately, in original, to the office concerned and the matter has to be reported to the higher authorities of such offices for action against them, regarding such abuse of official positions”.

Chaturvedi confirmed that he has issued the order on June 15.

Emphasising that the Right to Equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution, is one of the bedrocks of India’s democratic polity, the order pointed out that “however, over the years, a ‘VIP culture’ has crept into our polity, where persons occupying influential positions have started using their official position and power to create a distinct class for themselves, and using it as a privilege to make undue claim over public resources, for purposes which had nothing to do with the discharge of their official duties. This ‘VIP culture’ which is anathema to the cherished principles of equality and fraternity and has created distortions in the system of governance and has caused resentment in general public”.

Elaborating the reasons, the four-page order states that “CTR administration has been receiving a large number of communications, through explicit use/display of official position/state symbols, for arranging safari/stay/other private arrangements of various highly placed authorities, which is otherwise a purely personal activity and has nothing to do with the discharge of any official duties of the authorities concerned, by any stretch of interpretation”.

The order states that CTR has already made elaborate arrangements for booking of rooms in a completely transparent manner, for all the citizens through online booking portal.

The forest rest houses located inside national parks/wildlife sanctuary/reserve forest are governed by provisions of statutes related to forest and wildlife and also by orders of the Supreme Court in this regard.

According to July 5, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court, “Forest officers are required to camp inside the forests where no alternative accommodation is available. Forest rest houses/Inspection bungalows are facilities created for camping of forest officers primarily for discharge of their duties connected with conservation, protection and management of forest and wildlife. These rest houses have very limited number of rooms. Therefore the control of forest rest houses, including their reservation, shall under all circumstance remain with the forest department.’’

There are rules framed by Uttarakhand government regarding state guests, entitled for such facilities on private visits (list-1), while the communications received by Corbett Tiger Reserve administration is almost all of those functionaries which are outside the list mentioned in the said rules, whether belonging to judicial or executive positions.

First Published:
Jun 19, 2019 15:00 IST

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