After Jain stir, Centre halts all tourism activities at Parasnath | India News

NEW DELHI: Acting on demands of the Jain community from across the country, the Centre on Thursday modified the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) notification on Parasnath Sanctuary and stayed eco-tourism and all other ‘objectionable’ activities around Parasnath Hill that comprises the sanctum-sanctorum of Jain spirituality in Giridih district of Jharkhand with immediate effect.
Issuing an office memorandum on the Centre’s decision, the environment ministry directed the state government to immediately take all steps necessary to ensure the ban on tourism and the other activities such as use of liquor, non-vegetarian food items, loud music, unauthorised camping and trekking in the Parasnath Sanctuary.
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Besides, the ministry also constituted a committee for effective monitoring of the provisions of the modified ESZ notification. The state government was directed to have two members from the Jain community and one member from the local tribal community as permanent invitees to the monitoring committee, enabling appropriate involvement and oversight by important stakeholders.
“Sammed Shikharji Parvat (Parasnath Hill) is the world’s most sacred and revered Teerth Sthan (religious place) of Jain dharma (religion). The central government recognises its sanctity and significance for the Jain community as well as the nation at large, and reiterates its commitment towards maintaining the same,” said Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav on his ministry’s decision.
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He said, “The ministry has directed the Jharkhand government to strictly enforce existing provisions protecting the whole Parasnath Hill, categorically prohibiting liquor, drugs, non-vegetarian food items, loud music, unauthorised camping & trekking, defiling of religious sites, disturbing the natural tranquillity etc. It stays forthwith the implementation of Clause 3 of the ESZ notification pertaining to the buffer zone beyond the sacred Parasnath Hill; including amongst others all tourism and eco-tourism activities,”
Yadav earlier during the day held a meeting with different representatives of the Jain community and discussed with them the entire issue and the possible solution. The community representatives turned up in large numbers and spoke about the current situation at Sammed Shikharji and also about the demands of the community to maintain the piousness of the place.

Various members of the community as well as Parliamentarians had last year written to the ministry, saying the Parasnath Sanctuary is the sanctum-sanctorum of the Jain spirituality and certain developmental activities, including eco-tourism, within the ambit of the ESZ notification have hurt the religious sentiments of people. The ESZ around the sanctuary was notified by the ministry on the basis of the proposal submitted by the state in August, 2019.
The protests against the 2019 ESZ notification by members of the Jain community had been going on in different parts of the country for the last over three years with more intense ones being reported recently after Parliamentarians raised the issue during the just concluded winter session of the Parliament.

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