On plea to stop road through Corbett, NGT issues notice to Centre, Uttarakhand
The tribunal was hearing a plea seeking stay on the construction of the Kandi road as it would damage the ‘biodiversity, ecosystem and wildlife of the tiger reserve’Updated: May 29, 2018 20:58 IST
The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday issued show cause notice to the Centre and the Uttarakhand government on a plea seeking a stay on the construction of a road linking Kotdwar to Ramnagar and passing through the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
A bench headed by acting chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim sought responses from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the Uttarakhand government, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the National Board for Wildlife, the National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC) and others on Kandi road alignment within two weeks.
Notices have also been issued to the National Biodiversity Authority, Uttarakhand State Biodiversity Authority, principal chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden and Uttarakhand Ecotourism Development Corporation.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal seeking stay on the construction of the Kandi road as it would damage the “biodiversity, ecosystem and wildlife of the tiger reserve”.
Bansal contended that the state government was going ahead with the project despite a Supreme Court order which prohibits construction of any road passing through the Corbett tiger reserve and ban on tree felling in the eco-sensitive area.
“The Union of India, along with 12 other Tiger Range Countries is a signatory to the St. Petersburg Declaration of 2010. The declaration clearly prohibits any intrusive activity within the core tiger breeding areas,” the plea said.
The Uttarakhand government had in March signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NBCC to undertake construction of the 90-km road that will pass through the Corbett and shorten the travel distance from Garhwal to Kumaon by two hours. Of this, 50-km stretch is proposed to pass through Corbett.
The Supreme Court had in November 2005 approved an alignment for the road that passes through the boundary of the reserve and not inside.
Global Tiger Initiative Council chief executive officer (CEO), Keshav Varma, had earlier written to the MoEF and Uttarakhand government cricising the project. As per Varma, the project would mean a serious threat to conservation particularly in the protected area which has high density of tigers.
“The state government had in 2005 approved an alignment in consultation with MoEF then why are they engaging so much fund to change the alignment,” Bansal asked.
The state government has also signed an MoU with Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for a survey in the 50 km patch to understand the feasibility of the road.
“The MoEF has come up with new guidelines on linear infrastructure in protected areas. We are simply examining the possibilities. This will be our stand even before the Tribunal,” Ranbir Singh, additional chief secretary, Uttarakhand, said.
The matter is lined up for hearing in July, additional advocate general for the state of Uttarakhand, Rahul Verma said.
First Published: May 29, 2018 20:58 IST