After facing outrage from activists, environmentalists and opposition parties, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has decided to cancel the notification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve, paving the way for the expansion of the Dehradun Jolly Grant airport.
This was confirmed during the 16th meeting of the board chaired by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
In 2002, the state government had notified the Reserve, which has nearly 14 forest divisions under it, after obtaining permission from the Centre.
The withdrawal of the notification will allow authorities to initiate development activities in the area falling under a dozen forest divisions across the state, including the expansion of the Dehradun airport, Chief Wildlife Warden, JS Suhag told India Today.
Suhag said the notification had no legal sanctity and was just a government order without a Cabinet approval.
Besides, the board also approved four new trek routes in Nelang Valley in the Gangotri National Park to boost tourism in the state. The newly approved trek routes include Dumku-Chorgad (18km), Jaspur-Brahmikhal (14km), Jhala-Avan meadow (10km) and Nadung-Janaktal (10km).
Hundreds of people had gathered outside the Dehradun Airport in October, to protest against state government's decision to seek the National Wildlife Board's approval for transfer of 243 acres of forest land to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), leading to the felling of more than 10,000 trees. Demonstrators raised slogans that read 'Save Thano', while some were also seen hugging the trees.