To stop encroachment and reduce pollution levels in the Sundarbans, a Unesco world heritage site, the West Bengal government has served demolition notices to nine tourist lodges built inside the Sundarban biosphere reserve area, a government official said.
'At least nine tourist lodges violating building laws have been asked to pull down their structures within 15 days,' said Arijit Mitra, block development officer of Gosaba in South 24-Pargans district.
'The tourist lodges located at Pakhiralaya and Dayapur have no permission and most of them have been set up in and around the embankments. These could endanger the embankments and lead to flooding. So, their owners have been asked to demolish these,' Mitra said.
He also said owners of each of the buildings and lodges in the Sundarban biosphere reserve area were asked to produce their permission papers and after they failed to submit those, the demolition order was issued.
'We shall take stock of the situation after a fortnight,' said Mittra.
As a part of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MABP), the central government had declared the entire 9,630 sq km of Sundarbans forest as the Sundarban biosphere reserve in 1989. It was done to establish a formal mechanism for coordinating and integrating diverse activities of conservation, research and training for improving harmony between man and environment.
The world's largest mangrove forest region, due to its unique ecosystem, was also declared a World Heritage site in 1989.
State Minister for Sundarbans Affairs Kanti Ganguly said: 'Besides tourist lodges, several illegal buildings, including houses and even schools, have been set up in different parts of the Sundarbans. We are planning to serve show-cause notices to owners of these illegal structures.'
Law officer of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) Biswajit Mukherjee said, 'While constructing any building in the Sundarbans, it is mandatory to get approval from the Costal Regulatory Management Authority (CRMA). If the buildings have been built without its approval, then these buildings should be pulled down.'
He added: 'The PCB will not play any role in the eviction drive as the area is within the forest department. It is up to them to take proper action.'
The Sundarbans on the Bay of Bengal is the world's largest delta covered with tidal mangrove forest and is famous for its Royal Bengal tiger and varied species of flora and fauna.