JDA asked to re-examine proposal as per provisions of Forest Conservation Act

Development of ultra modern amusement park in Sidhra area
Dire need of major recreational facility near Jammu city

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Sept 1: Forest Department has asked the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) to re-examine the Detailed Project Report (DPR) regarding development of ultra modern amusement-cum-entertainment park and Eco resort in Sidhra area strictly as per the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and thereafter submit a fresh proposal for transfer of land.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that about 300 kanals of land along the Jammu Golf Course on the left bank of River Tawi was identified by the Jammu Development Authority for setting up an ultra-modern amusement park with short stay facility as under Jammu Master Plan the land use of this area is recreation and the activity of amusement park is covered under the same.
Accordingly, discussion was held with Forest Department and it came to the fore that this land can be allowed to the developed as amusement park subject to formal application being made on Parvesh Portal for diversion of forest land.
Moreover, a formal indent for the transfer of this forest land to JDA for the development of amusement park was placed with Deputy Commissioner, Jammu vide Letter No. JDA-1/2053-55 dated 05.10.2021.
After the approval granted by the Board of Directors of the Jammu Development Authority for the project in the 85th meeting, the JDA formally applied to the Forest Department for transfer of forest land and also floated a tender dated March 31, 2022 for the selection of the Transaction Advisor for setting up an amusement park.
Accordingly, the proposal was discussed in a meeting with Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Conservator of Forests, Nodal Officer (Forest Conservation Act). However, the Forest Department refused to transfer forest land for the project in its present shape on the ground that forest land can be diverted only for critical development initiatives for public.
“The Forest Department further pointed out that the DPR provided for development of ultra modern amusement park at an estimated cost of Rs 7160 lakh is neither development of critical public and strategic defense infrastructure nor infrastructural project”, sources informed, adding “accordingly, the JDA was asked to re-examine the proposal in light of the provisions and requirements under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 with complete justification for locating the project in the forest area”.
During the discussion held between JDA and Empanelled Transaction Advisors (ETAs) it was pointed out that there are numerous instances of forest land being allowed for the amusement park/eco resorts and the example of Fun & Food Kingdom Dehradun where Forest Department allowed construction of approach road on forest land for the amusement park was pointed out.
The ETAs expressed the view that commercially viable project inconsonance with Forest Conservation Act, 1980 can be conceptualized in consultation with the Forest Department and now Jammu Development Authority is in the process of engaging ETAs for preparing techno economic feasibility report in consultation with Forest Department. The ETAs will also help JDA in finding an appropriate Public Private Partnership (PPP) partner for the project, sources informed.
In response to a question, they said, “notwithstanding the objection of the Forest Department, the project has not been shelved and fresh proposal strictly as per the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act will be prepared and accordingly Forest Department will be approached”.
It is pertinent to mention here that necessity of a State-of-the-Art Amusement Park in the Jammu city is being felt since long and has been projected at number of forums by the residents as well as public representatives.
This need is all the more felt to project Jammu city as an independent tourist destination and to prolong the stay of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims and Kashmir bound tourists in Jammu city. Moreover, amusement park in the outskirts of Jammu city will act as a centre of attraction for the city dwellers as well as tourists coming from different parts of the country.
Moreover, no major financial implication is involved as project is proposed to be developed under Public Private Partnership mode in which JDA contribution will be in the form of land only.