Segur Elephant Corridor Inquiry Committee questions orders passed urging collector to de-seal property along notified elephant corridor

: The Chairman of the Segur Plateau Elephant Corridor Inquiry Committee has written to the Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary, Hitesh Kumar S. Makwana, questioning orders he had passed urging the district collector to de-seal one of the illegal resorts that was sealed in the Sigur plateau in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve buffer zone.

Mr. Makwana is believed to have written to the collector, urging her to de-seal one of the 36 illegal resorts that had been sealed in August of 2018, following Supreme Court orders. The owner of the property, M.P.Cherian (Cottanad Plantation), produced a de-sealing order passed by the Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary, as the department had accepted Mr. Cherian’s contention that his property was only being used for residential purposes.

The Chairman of the Committee, retired Judge, Justice K. Venkatraman, is said to have stated in his letter that the Supreme Court had appointed the inquiry committee to inquire into the objections raised by the resort owners in the Sigur. The committee has also questioned why the issue was not referred to the inquiry committee, which has been appointed to listen and record the grievances of the property owners.

The district collector too cannot intervene in de-sealing the building as the issue was in the purview of the inquiry committee, sources close to the committee members said.

More violations found

In October, the inquiry committee is said to have inspected more than 20 of the properties that had been sealed more than two years ago, along the notified elephant corridor in the Sigur plateau.

Many of the resorts that had been sealed were found to have broken the seals to the buildings that had been closed down, and evidence of use was found, official sources said. The resort owners had claimed that the buildings had been vandalized and broken into and claimed innocence.

When contacted for comment, Justice K. Venkatraman, refused to comment on the allegations. “It would be improper for me or for any of the members on the committee to comment on these allegations when the inquiry is yet to be completed,” he told The Hindu.

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