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Forests Rest Houses Won’t Be Transferred to Private Entities: SC Accepts CEC Guidelines [Read Order]

We expect these guidelines to prevent the misuse of Forest Rest Houses/Inspection Bungalows, particularly since they have the approval of the Union of India as well

The Supreme Court has ordered that forest rest houses (FRHs)/inspection bungalows (IBs) located within the forest area, including the protected areas, shall not be transferred to private and commercial entities in the name of public-private partnership or by whatever name such an arrangement is called, for the promotion of any form of tourism, including ecotourism.

A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta was considering the application in which Bikram Singh had brought to the notice of the court that the forest rest houses/inspection bungalows located inside the forests are being misused for a variety of activities.

The bench also considered the guidelines which were framed by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for control and maintenance of forest rest houses/inspection bungalows located inside the forests.

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Forest officers are required to camp inside the forests where no alternate accommodation is available. Forest rest houses/inspection bungalows are facilities created for camping of forest officers primarily for the discharge of their duties connected with conservation, protection and management of forests and wildlife. These rest houses have very limited number of rooms. Therefore, the control of forest rest houses, including their reservation, shall under all circumstances remain with the Forest Department.
  2. The district administration may, in special circumstances and for a limited period be granted priority reservation of rooms in the FRH/IBs for specific purposes. At no circumstance, the control of the FRH/IBs located inside the forests be taken over by the district administration/government.
  3. Forest rest houses/inspection bungalows located within the forest area, including the protected areas, shall not be transferred to private and commercial entities in the name of the public-private partnership or by whatever name such an arrangement is called, for the promotion of any form of tourism, including ecotourism.
  4. The Forest Department should make every effort to retain the basic plan and elevation of old FRHs/IBs many of which are heritage buildings while making improvement/addiction to these buildings.

Approving these guidelines, the bench observed: “We expect these guidelines to prevent the misuse of Forest Rest Houses/Inspection Bungalows, particularly since they have the approval of the Union of India as well. Accordingly, we accept the guidelines and make them an order of this Court.”

The court also directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to circulate a copy of its order to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of all the states and ensure that they abide by these guidelines.

Read the Order Here

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