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The Gujarat High Court today sought clarification from the state and the central governments on whether technical committee of the Central Zoo Authority can give final permission to start Ambardi Lion Safari in Amreli district.
A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi also asked the governments to clarify if the report finalised by the technical committee on the proposed project has been submitted to the main body of the CZA.
The PIL, filed by environmentalist Biren Pandya, has sought court's direction to the government to set aside the plan to convert the forest area into lion safari as it will damage the eco-sensitive zone.
The state government had said that a committee headed by additional director general of wildlife of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on June 5 gave final permission to start lion safari at Ambardi.
The petitioner told the court today that so far only the technical committee of CZA has finalised a report on the proposal to start the lion safari, and this cannot be construed as a final nod as the committee is not empowered for the same.
The petitioner also claimed that CZA officials never visited the site where the safari is proposed to come up, despite a HC order in the past directing it to do the same.
The state government had originally proposed a Chinkara Park at the spot but deviated from its original plan to plan a lion safari to attract tourist, the petitioner further claimed.
The park would be in violation of eco-sensitive zone norms and fencing will affect the natural corridor of several other wild animals and hence should be realigned or removed, the petitioner claimed.
The proposed lion safari aims to take tourist load off the existing Gir National Park.
As per the latest census carried out by the state forest department in 2015, Gujarat is home to 523 lions in Gir forest and other areas in Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)