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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Demand to exclude Nagdwar temples from Satpuda tiger reserve

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 06.09 PM IST NAGPUR: The Pachmarhi Bachao Kruti Samiti has clamoured for excluding Nagdwar and Mahedao temples from the jurisdiction of Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh's. According to rough estimates, at least 10 lakh people visit Nagdwar every year during Nagpanchmi festival. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is 28km from Pachmarhi hill station, with motorable road till Dhupgad, some 14km away. Nagdwar is a complete walking trail through dense forests, valleys and streams. The yatra unveils many facets of human nature and of nature itself. However, as the area falls in the core of tiger reserve there are restrictions on visitors under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972. On December 3, a delegation led by working president of the samiti Umakant Zade met Hoshangabad district collector Rahul Jain and later on December 6, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan at Bhopal. "Nagdwar area should be excluded from the tiger reserve and declared a place of pilgrimage. The forest department recently demolished temporary shelters for yatris at Nagdwar. Chouhan has instructed the forest officials to stop demolition," Zade told TOI. Although Chouhan assured the delegation that the state government would extend all possible help to solve problems of the yatris, the government was bound by the recent Supreme Court ruling on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves. The pressure on forests due to pilgrims in the two months around Nag Panchami is apparent. Zade said the samiti is mobilizing devotees from all over Vidarbha to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Jabalpur High Court soon. Former MLA Marotrao Khawse, Chandrabhan Sonarghare, Ravindra Thakre, Arun Mozarkar, Damodhar Maske, Ramesh Gaurkar, Hiraman Shende, Soniram Kshirsagar, Dipak Saudagar, Gunderao Piturkar and others were part of the 30-member delegation. Zade said forest department forbids all construction, so pilgrims cannot hope for better facilities or sanitation. Defecation in open will thus continue and permanent night shelters are out of the question. There is a road for four-wheel drive vehicles till Nagdwar, but it remains closed. "Nagdwar is excluded from the reserve it will not only help devotees but many tribals will get employment," said Zade.

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