The Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court has held former Uttarakhand forest minister Harak Singh Rawat and the then divisional forest officer (DFO) Kishan Chand responsible for various illegal activities, including constructions in connection with a tiger safari in 2021, in the Pakhro and Morghatti forest areas of the Kalagarh Forest Division of the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
In its report submitted to the top court on Tuesday on a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, the committee held Rawat and Chand guilty for construction activities in connection with the tiger safari and other illegal projects in the Pakhro and Morghatti forest areas.
Holding Rawat responsible for the irregularities committed by Chand, the committee has recommended that the Supreme Court issue a notice to Rawat and give him an opportunity of hearing.
It has also given its green signal to the Uttarakhand vigilance department to continue with the legal proceedings against the forest officials involved in the irregularities.
On page 94 of the report, the committee has said even when the media was reporting all kinds of disturbances in Pakhro and Morghatti, the then chief wildlife warden and the state government did not take action against the culprits.
Forest Ranger Brij Bihari Sharma and Chand have been sent to jail for the alleged irregularities, while the then chief wildlife warden Jhabar Singh Suhag has retired. Suhag was also suspended before retirement.
Rawat, one of the tallest leaders of Uttarakhand, was the forest minister in the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. He was expelled by the saffron party ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls, following which he joined the Congress.
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