Pune: Maharashtra Forest Department to Establish 71 ‘Authorized’ Food Stalls at Sinhagad Fort

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Khadakwasla, 17th April 2024: To prevent unauthorized food stalls from encroaching on Sinhagad fort, the forest department has initiated a plan to establish 71 food stalls through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding, which is now nearing completion. The Maharashtra Forest Department announced that the stalls will soon be allocated to recipients through a lottery system.

Many surrounding villages had previously set up food stalls in the area as a source of livelihood, but these operations were unofficial and often encroached on protected areas. In 2021, the Maharashtra Forest Department took action against over 100 food stalls in response to complaints from villagers and tourists. However, the locals opposed the crackdown, citing concerns about unemployment.

Following the dispute, the forest department decided to establish authorized stalls in the area themselves. The plan involves creating a food plaza, and the forest management committee for the Sinhagad Fort area approved the decision. These stalls are being constructed with CSR funding and are expected to be completed and operational by the end of May, according to the forest department.

The Forest Department is working to establish a food plaza with 71 food stalls on Sinhagad Fort, to manage unauthorized food stalls and prevent encroachments. Of the 71 stalls planned, 56 have been constructed so far, with the assistance of Gram Sabhas.

The food plaza will cover 1.6 acres of land acquired from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). Pune Forest Department Assistant Conservator of Forests Deepak Pawar noted that each stall will measure 8 feet by 10 feet. The project is expected to cost around two crore rupees, and the expenses will be covered through corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds.

The department plans to charge rent for the stalls, but it will be waived for the first year to support the stall operators.