In view of the ongoing protests by the Jain community in various cities against the decision to establish Shri Sammed Shikharji shrine in Jharkhand as an eco-tourism destination, the Narendra Modi-led Union Government has put a stay on all activities at the Parasnath Hills.
On January 5, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change issued an office memorandum regarding protecting the sanctity of the Wildlife Sanctuary and Eco-Sensitive Zone in and around Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra in Girdih District of Jharkhand.
The order came after the meeting of Union Minister Bhupender Yadav with different representatives of the Jain community to discuss the entire issue and to find out a possible solution. Minister mentioned that Environment Ministry recognises that “Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra is a sacred Jain religious place not only for the Jain community but for the entire country, and the Ministry is committed to maintaining its sanctity.”
Taking to a microblogging site, Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav tweeted, “Assured them that PM Shri @narendramodi ji’s government is committed to preserving and protecting the rights of the Jain community over all their religious sites, including Sammed Shikhar”.
Met Jain community members who have been urging to protect the sanctity of Sammed Shikhar.
Assured them that PM Shri @narendramodi ji’s government is committed to preserving and protecting the rights of Jain community over all their religious sites, including Sammed Shikhar. pic.twitter.com/MrxiB616PE
— Bhupender Yadav (@byadavbjp) January 5, 2023
Union Government directed the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Government to immediately take all necessary steps to strictly execute the relevant provisions Management Plan of the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary that restricts sell of liquor, drugs, and other intoxicants; playing loud music or using loudspeakers, damaging flora or fauna; causing environmental pollution; committing harmful acts to forests, water bodies, plants, animals, or disturbing the natural tranquillity of such sites; coming with pet animals; and unauthorised camping and trekking on the Parasnath Hill.
Ministry has also directed the Jharkhand Government to strictly implement the ban on the sale and consumption of liquor & non-vegetarian food items on Parasnath hill as provided in the said office memorandum.
Union Government has also constituted a monitoring committee under clause 5 of the said notification for effective monitoring of the provisions of the above Eco Sensitive Zone notification under sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Modi Government also directs the State to include two members from the Jain community and one from the local Tribal community as permanent invitees to this monitoring committee, enabling appropriate involvement and oversight by important stakeholders.
Union Government also directs the State to include two members from the Jain community and one from the local Tribal community as permanent invitees to this monitoring committee. The move will enable appropriate involvement and oversight by important stakeholders
As part of the Jharkhand Tourism Policy launched in July 2022, the Hemant Soren Government chose to promote religious tourism at Parasnath Peak. Every year, Jains from across the world come to the State to undertake the 27 km long trek to reach the summit that houses the salvation shrines of 20 Tirthankaras.
The Union Government order comes as a big win for the Jain community, who have been protesting on the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Surat, demanding the scrapping of all the circulars declaring the place as a tourist place.
On December 21, 2022, members of the community called for a one-day bandh as a mark of protest. On January 1, 2023, members of the Jain community staged a protest in Delhi and other parts of the country.
On January 3, Jain Muni Sugyesagar Maharaj took his last breath after fasting for ten days against the Soren Government’s decision on the Shri Sammed Shikharji pilgrim centre in Jaipur.