Ambikapur. State health minister T S Singhdeo has also shown his support for the protesting villagers who are against the expansion of Lemru Elephant Reserve. Addressing the public meeting held at village Khamharia of Udaipur development block, Health Minister T S Singhdeo said, "There is no need to give in to pressure about this project. I am personally opposed to extending the boundaries of the project. Do not sign the proposal of the gram sabha, and if necessary, I will sit on a fast unto death."
Today the Health Minister arrived on a field visit. During this, he told the villagers, "We favoured this project until it remained confined to places with no population. At first, this project was supposed to occupy four-hundred-and-fifty square kilometres. After the first examination, the elephant reserve acquired an area of one thousand nine hundred ninety-five square km. Later on, it increased to four thousand square km. He added that "I am not in favour of this. There is no need to increase the Lemru project so much, and I am speaking plainly in front of everyone. I do not favour adding more villages in this sanctuary."
He told that "Now a plan has been made to include Udaipur, Jhirmiti to Ren river, thirty-eight villages of Udaipur area and fourteen villages of Lakhanpur in the project. I think that it is unnecessary; hence I am putting my thoughts plainly before you, but this is not my decision. This village belongs to all of you; this is a democracy, and so you must decide if you want your village to be part of the elephant sanctuary. Your village will not be destroyed or moved, but concerned officials will ask whether to include it in the sanctuary. I must inform and advise, but the choice must be yours. It should be according to your preference and judgment."
The Health Minister further said, "There is no reason to add the revenue villages to the Elephant Sanctuary. One or two villages that are in the midst is acceptable, but is there any need of including such villages as Mohanpur, Jhirmiti, Kavalagiri, Laxmangarh? I have discussed this with leading officials, but if you are pressured and you decide to oppose, then I will sit with you and protest against this project."