Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN
NAGPUR: The tigers in Pench have finally got back their space, thanks to the judiciary. The irrigation colony land with sixty-two existing structures at Totladoh in Pench was handed over to the forest on December 6th following an order of the double bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice VM Deshpande at the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court.

The court had given the order on November 19th on a writ petition filed by Kishor Rithe, member of the Nature Conservation Society, Amravati, with directives to vacate the colony in two weeks and which also sought a report on the eviction.

As the colony in the midst of the core area is detrimental to wildlife and the National Park, Justice JN Patel and PS Brahme, on April 22nd, 2002, had ruled that no human settlement is permissible inside the tiger reserve. However, even after 12 years, the colony had not been handed over to Pench.

The colony is situated in 15 hectares and the quarters were occupied by the staff of Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) and the Water Resources Department (WRD) for maintenance work of the Pench Hydroelectric Power Project in Totladoh.
The expenses to shift the colonies will have to be borne by the WRD.

Rithe hopes the government will soon start demolishing the buildings in the Park and station Forest staff in the buildings close to the road and power station so that they can effectively patrol the entire Park.

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