Indore: A transit hostel built using tribal fund in 1983 is being transformed into a so-called camp office, which in reality is a bungalow for forest minister Vijay Shah, even though there is no provision for the same.
The forest minister like other state minister is entitled to a bungalow in his home constituency, i.e. Khandwa or in Bhopal as it is the state capital.
Forest workers who are unhappy over the development said that the conversion of tribal transit hostel will deny basic rights to children of forest workers and instead just provide another comfortable accommodation to the minister, who doesn’t need it.
The renovation work of the hostel is going on since March. In order to please the minister, the officers are busy gathering every possible facility in the bungalow, some of the forest workers said.
According to departmental sources, the hostel was built 37 years ago with tribal funds.
It has been used by children of forest workers for years. But since last few years, the officers are utilising the building for their comfort. Taking advantage of this, the officers have given their green signal to refurbish the bungalow so that it is fit for a minister to stay in.
Actually the bungalow no. 1 was given by the district administration to the forest department in 1983-84, and a transit hostel was built with tribal funds. The construction work was completed with Rs 2.69 lakhs. Some additional rooms were built. During that time, the department only allowed the children of forest workers coming from tribal areas to stay.
For some years, it was utilised for children of forest workers coming from Dhar, Alirajpur, Jhabua and other areas. In 2004-05, the then DFO R Chaudhary made a residence there. The hostel was made a bungalow and around Rs 14 lakh was spent. In this regard, the then collector had also ordered an enquiry. Later the hostel was kept empty for some time.
Even kids of IFS stayed in the hostel till 2016
Indian Forest Service (IFS) officials also kept their children here. Between 2013-16, children of Satish Tyagi, then CEO of Eco Tourism, then CCF PC Dubey, then CF Vikram Singh Parihar, son of APCCF Jawwad Hasan lived here for years.
After a complaint was filed, the department imposed penalty between Rs 50 and Rs 1.5 lakh. Later in 2019, the then CCF M Kalidurai also accomodated senior EOW officials for a few months.
After the arrival of forest conservator Narendra Pandava in March 2021, the refurbishment of the bungalow has started once again. “The place was a hostel way back sometime I guess, it was converted into a bungalow and now, we are just transforming it further,” he said.