The Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for the opening of the restaurants and running of light and sound programmes in the forest area of Nahargarh Wildlife Sanctuary/Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur by staying an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in this regard.

A Bench of Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari passed the order on an appeal by the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Rajasthan and others against the NGT order directing the state government to shut all the restaurants operating in the notified forest area of the Wildlife Sanctuary/Nahargarh Fort.

Senior Advocate Manish Singhvi appeared for the appellants -- Department of Archaeology and Museum and others.

In its order, the NGT had said that restaurants, as well as light and sound programmes, are non-forest activities that are not permissible in forest areas and are also not congenial to the objects of the Wildlife Act.

"Accordingly, we direct that all restaurants operating in the notified forest area of Nahargarh Wildlife Sanctuary/ Nahargarh Fort be discontinued with effect from December 1, 2021. In case of any dispute the boundaries be verified jointly by the Forest Department and Collector Jaipur," the tribunal had said.

"We also direct that the light and sound programme in the area of wildlife sanctuary be discontinued from the said date. It is however made clear that this will not affect parking and entry of visitors in the Fort/Museum", it had said.

The NGT had also said that the Forest Department will install noise barriers at appropriate locations to mitigate the impact of noise generated by vehicles.

It had said that the forest department will also regulate the number of vehicles and locations of parking.

The tribunal had passed the order on a plea filed by a Rajasthan native against non-forest activities being carried out in the Nahargarh Wildlife Sanctuary, including Nahargarh Fort near Jaipur in Rajasthan.

According to the applicant before the NGT, as per judgement of the Supreme Court, no non-forest activities is permissible in forest area, yet non-forest activities have been allowed in the form of restaurants and the excise department has issued license of Bar to the resorts/hotels, cafeterias situated in the Nahargarh Wildlife Sanctuary without prior permission of the forest department.

With PTI inputs