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March 28, 2013
Land Prices Go Up Three Times Around Kuno Sanctuary


28 March 2013

Sheopur/Gwalior: Real estate prices in and around Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh have sky-rocketed, days after the Supreme Court ruled for shifting some of the Asiatic lions from Gujarat's Gir forest. The erstwhile royalty in Kuno has also come up with fresh legal claims for some of the heritage structures in the area.

Land prices around Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary (KPWS) in Sheopur district have shot up three-fold since the apex court's ruling while heirs of the erstwhile rulers of Palpur state have asked the state government to pay adequate compensation for their forts and properties located in the core area before the lions are shifted. They claim that their forts and land were acquired illegally.

The Palpur family has also moved the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court seeking direction to the state forest department for allowing them to visit the fort and its temple until a final settlement on their claim is made. As of now, they are charged Rs 1,300 as entry fee like any other tourist to visit their ancestral properties inside the sanctuary. "The forest department has stopped us from offering prayers at our family temple in the fort," the royals complain.

The fort or Palpur Garhi, as it is called, was vacated by the Palpur family along with people in 24 villages after the area was notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1981.

Over 1,500 villagers inside the sanctuary were compensated for their land, cattle, trees and other belongings during the land acquisition process, but the family claims they didn't get anything. "We feel cheated, they should either compensate us properly or allow us access to our property," says Pusphraj Singh, the eldest son of late Jagmohan Singh Palpur, the erstwhile ruler.

Earlier when they approached the state government for compensation for the acquisition of the fort, the public works department said in its survey report that the property was over 100 years' old and had 'zero value'. Based on this report, compensation was denied.

When contacted, former deputy forest officer (DFO), Kuno, JS Chouhan, who completed the land acquisition process, said the Palpur family should be given due compensation after proper valuation of the property.