The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stayed construction of a 2-km wall inside the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand, after it found the wall would obstruct a passage used by elephants along the Song River.
The Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), an NGO, had filed a petition with the NGT about the construction being carried out by the state irrigation department, without taking permission from the Union forest ministry.
After hearing the petition, the panel asked the state government to maintain the status quo till the next hearing on May 5. The panel felt the wall would obstruct the movement of elephants between eastern and western flanks of the RNP.
The NGT also criticised forest authorities for permitting the construction of the wall, which was beyond their purview.
"The permission was granted to construct a wall on February 2, 2014 by the conservator of forest/director, Rajaji National Park. The wall permitted to be constructed will obstruct the movement of elephants," observed the Tribunal.
On March 24, 2014, HT had also carried a report on illegal constriction of the wall and its ill-effects. The 10-foot high wall would obstruct the movement of elephants between Gohari and Motichur range of the park. It would have also obstructed the tigers' movement between the two flanks.
"The wall would have become a bane for the wild animals had it been constructed as per plan of the state irrigation department," said Dinesh Pande of the Wildlife Trust of India.