Helicopter landing in Eco-Sensitive Zone riles up environmentalists; No violation, says Forest Officer
Chamarajanagar: Industrialist and Chairman of TVS Group Venu Srinivasan has come to Chamarajanagar District and is camping at a coffee estate. He arrived in a helicopter on Thursday and he will be in station for two more days.
Srinivasan is the Chairman of TVS Group which includes Sundaram-Clayton Group and its subsidiary TVS Motor Company, India’s third largest maker of two-wheelers. He is staying at Bedaguli, in the coffee estate owned by Emerald Haven Coffee Company. Bedaguli comes under Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple (BRT) Sanctuary and is a protected area. The estate is owned by Chennai-based Emerald Haven Estates Limited.
Srinivasan came to the coffee plantation in a helicopter and as the area is full of forest and thick growth, it was not possible for the chopper to land. Later, a temporary helipad was made in a private land at Bejjalupalya between Kolipalya and Punajanoor. After landing at Bejjalupalya, Srinivasan proceeded to the plantation by road.
However, the landing of a chopper has not gone lightly with environmentalists who alleged that the helicopter has landed in an Eco-Sensitive Zone and the landing area is very close to BRT Sanctuary. Environmentalists have questioned how the Forest Department gave permission for a chopper to land in an area that is a wildlife habitat.
They pointed out that in the past, Forest Department Officers had denied permission for the President’s chopper to land in BRT Sanctuary. “When the President’s security team sought permission for his chopper to land, the Department Officers denied permission saying that BRT Sanctuary was a sensitive area and the sound of chopper would disturb the wildlife. How can the Department grant permission now,” they questioned.
CCF clarifies: However, Chamarajanagar Circle Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Manoj Kumar told reporters that the estate owners wanted to land the chopper within the estate boundaries.
“We had denied permission as the estate comes in the Eco-Sensitive Zone and all such activities are prohibited. They have now landed the chopper at Bejjalupalya on a private land and it is an open area without any vegetation,” he said.
Further, Manoj Kumar has clarified that the place where the chopper landed is outside the protected area and is not near the Eco-Sensitive Zone. “They have secured permission from the District Administration, Police and the Committee on Eco-Sensitive Zone,” he clarified.
Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner Dr. M.R. Ravi said that requisite permission had been taken from the District Administration and the Police. The chopper has landed in a revenue land where a temporary helipad has been set up and not a forest area, he added.