This is an Appeal filed by the 4 appellants who are wildlife conservationists, against the Judgment and Decree of their suit that was dismissed by the District Judge of Chikmagalur in RA No. 32/2013. The original suit was filed by the appellants in public interest. The appellants are concerned with the construction work of a tourist camp called Muthodi Nature Camp on the Property which falls in Sy. No. 226 and 228 of Srivase village, Jagara Hobli of Chikmagalur. This property is in the core of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats and has been declared as reserve forest. The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary has a substantial tiger population and was declared as the 25th Project of Tiger in 1998.
The tourist camp was constructed by the government officials. By constructing a tourist camp the Respondents were in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, which provides that without prior approval of the Central Government there cannot be any use of forest land for non-forest purposes.
The Trial Judge held that the construction conducted by Muthodi Nature Camp came under Explanation (b) of Section 2 of the Act, meaning to be ‘forest related ‘ activities and therefore could be undertaken without the approval of the Central Government. However, the only kind of activity that comes under the provision of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act is work that is relating to ancillary to the conservation of forests. Therefore, the appellants filed a second appeal as the work of the Muthodi Nature Camp was not ancillary to the conservation, development and management of forests and wildlife and in fact would be detrimental to both.
As the interpretation of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act is in question, in view of the direction issued by the Supreme Court in this matter, The High Court of Karnataka granted an interim order to stay all further construction and expansion of the Muthodi Nature Camp.