The Madhya Pradesh high court on Wednesday granted the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) six weeks to reply to a PIL filed challenging the erecting iron fencing on periphery of tiger safaris inside the buffer zones of Pench and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves.
The PIL, filed on September 16 by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, has said that errant forest officers did not seek mandatory permission before erecting the fencing and before setting up tiger safaris. Tigers and other wild animals got trapped in the iron chain link fencing, the petitioner claimed, leading to the deaths of eight tigers and two tigers in Pench and Bandhavgarh respectively.
The PIL also sought direction for the implementation of recommendations by the NTCA in its reports tagged “recent mortality of tigers at the Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh” and “recent mortality of tigers in and around Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve”.
The NTCA report says the reasons behind the mortality of tigers and other animals in Pench and Bandhavgarh reserves was due to installation of the chain link fencing to set up tiger safaris, the petition said. An NTCA committee found there was blatant violation of provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and Forest (Conservation) Act. Therefore the structures erected be dismantled but no action has taken by the State government as yet in both the tiger reserves, the petitioner counsel said.
Advocate Mohan Sausarkar appeared for the NTCA and sought some more time to file the reply. The petitioner’s counsel Shivendra Pandey said the court has said if the NTCA did not file the reply by the next hearing, it would hear on interim objections related to the issue raised in the petition.