‘Missing’ letter roadblock to Mulayam’s lion safari

SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav's dream project to have a lion safari in his home district of Etawah has once again run into trouble. This time the reason beng that a letter from the UP government has gone "missing" at the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The letter dated July 19 was reportedly sent by Rupak Dey, UP's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, to the Union ministry in reply to its objections, raised in a letter on July 1. The MoEF had said that the state government was going ahead with the project illegally as no permission under the Forest Conservation Act had been taken for using forest land for the purpose of the proposed lion safari.

After this, the state Forest Department stopped work at the site. On August 13, Rupak Dey wrote to MoEF, stating that the ministry can depute its officers for site inspection in the light of his earlier letter dated July 19.

However, officials at MoEF could not locate any letter from Dey dated July 19. They wrote to Dey, apprising him that his letter of July 19 was not available with them and hence a copy should be sent.

Since then, there has been no response from the Forest Department while the work on the proposed lion safari stood standstill.

Asked about the missing letter, Dey said, "It is a matter between my office and the ministry. There is nothing much in that letter, it is a routine communication with the MoEF. We have asked them for a site inspection."

Dey denied the state government had violated the Forest Conservation Act. "We are strictly adhering to the rules and there has been no violation. We are in touch with Central Zoo Authority on a daily basis," Dey stated.

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