People owning these properties had obtained permission to construct dwelling houses and residences, but were instead using them for commercial purposes.
Closure notices have been issued to 55 homestays and resorts illegally operating in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) buffer zone.
According to officials from the Masinagudi village panchayat, the action follows the death of a 50-year-old elephant that died from injuries it sustained when people running an illegal homestay threw a flaming object at the elephant; the object got stuck in its ear and caused it fatal injuries. Two people have been arrested, while a third person, M. Ricky Rayan, is currently absconding.
Officials said that a list of resorts and homestays operating in Mavanallah, Achakarai and Masinagudi, outside the notified elephant corridor, were drawn up following the incident. The people owning these properties had reportedly obtained permission to construct dwelling houses and residences, but were instead using the properties for commercial purposes, the officials added.
Activists, including ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran, responsible for obtaining a ban on the construction of resorts in the notified elephant corridor in the Sigur plateau, had recently written to District Collector J. Innocent Divya, calling for the illegal resorts and homestays operating outside the elephant corridor to be shut down as well, and for the three accused involved in the animal’s death to be booked under the Goondas Act.