Ooty: It looks like the dawn of 2013 may not have been on a happy note for Union external affairs minister Salman Khurshid with greens here venting their anger against him for choosing to stay in a private tourist resort said to be declared illegal and directed to be closed down by the Madras high court as it is located in the elephant corridor.
K. Mohan Raj, coordinator of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement (TNGM), said that Khurshid, on a visit to the Nilgiris since Monday, had stayed in a private tourist resort in Bokkapuram, adjoining the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), though the state government had allotted a VIP guesthouse at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve for him, as a protocol.
But the minister chose to stay in the tourist resort which has been declared illegal and directed to be shut by the high court.
His relatives reportedly own tourist resorts in Sigur plateau in the Nilgiris, which has been notified as elephant corridor based on the orders of the Madras high court. The matter is pending now before the Supreme Court, he added.
“We find this to be an unfortunate development and extremely discouraging to see the Union minister patronising a disputed resort at a controversial location. These resorts dismember a vital corridor that connects Eastern and Western Ghats’ elephant population. Had the minister opted to stay in the MTR guesthouse, he would have sent a right and encouraging signal,” he added.
Officials at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve were tight-lipped and only said the minister visited the jungles on Monday afternoon and left for Bokkapuram. However, police sources said the minister was scheduled to stay in the jungle guesthouse in the Upper Kargudi area in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve but chose to move to the Bokkapuram private resort.
The minister would leave the Nilgiris on Wednesday, the police said.