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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

To check tiger deaths, iuse drones, CCTV: HC directs Uttarakhand govt

HC noted that reportedly eight tigers had died in the state in 2018 alone

dehradun Updated: Jun 15, 2018 23:10 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Nainital
The court also asked if a Tiger Reserve Force has been constituted.
The court also asked if a Tiger Reserve Force has been constituted.(HT File)

Terming the tiger deaths in Uttarakhand as “alarming sitution”, the Nainital high court on Friday directed the state government to check the trend immediately.

The court directed the state government to use drone technology and CCTV cameras to protect the wildlife in protected areas, including Corbett National Park and Rajaji National Park, from poaching and illegal mining activities within three months.

The division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh also directed the state government that whenever a tiger dies unnaturally, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) concerned shall conduct inquiry into the circumstances leading to big cat’s death.

HC noted that reportedly eight tigers had died in the state in 2018 alone. “It is an alarming situation. It is required to be arrested forthwith.”

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Ramnagar-based Vishvanath Singh. The petitioner has challenged the 2010 notification through which core area of 821.99 sq km and buffer area of 466.32 sq km of Corbett National Park was declared as “Tiger Reserve”.

The HC, while disposing of the PIL, directed the chief secretary to take all necessary steps for the eviction of unauthorized occupants from the government buildings in Kalagarh area of Corbett within a period of three weeks. Those to be evicted include the petitioner.

It also directed the field directors Tiger Reserve, Corbett National Park and Rajaji National Park to preserve the viscera of the dead tigers to ascertain the cause of death. The entire exercise of conducting post mortem on the dead body of the tiger is ordered to be video-graphed, the order added.

Petitioner slapped penalty of Rs 5 lakh, court says he too is unauthorized occupant

The Uttarakhand high court on Friday slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on petitioner Vishvanath Singh for “gross misuse of the process of the court”. The bench directed that the cost be deposited by the petitioner in the registry of the court within a period of one month, failing which the District Magistrate, Pauri Garhwal will recover the same by way of arrears of land revenue.

The high court maintained that this was “a private litigation in the garb of PIL” and the “court cannot be privy” to such a petition. “It is also intriguing to note that the petitioner who is found to be a rank encroacher has not been vacated till date. This cannot happen without the collusion and connivance of the state functionaries. The state machinery must protect its property. The notification has been issued strictly as per the mandate of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972,” the order read

The HC noted that petitioner had not stated how the 2010 notification is in violation of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.

“The petitioner himself is an un-authorized occupant of Quarter No D-134, New Colony, Kalagarh in Corbett. It is submitted by the counsel appearing for the state that number of employees, even after their retirement, have not vacated the government accommodation. In other words, they are in un-authorized occupation of the government accommodation...,” the order stated.

The HC noted that in tiger reserves, “these un-authorized occupants are threat to the wildlife. The possibility of their involvement in poaching cannot be overlooked”.

The court had earlier directed the state government to constitute a Tiger Reserve Force. Chief Standing Counsel was put a query whether such a force has been constituted or not. He apprised the court that process has commenced and the same will be completed within a period of 45 days.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 23:10 IST