What steps taken to prevent tiger, elephant deaths: HC to Uttarakhand chief secy
the Uttarakhand high court said on Thursday that the state government cannot be a mute spectator, stressing that the need of the hour was that the “criminal tribes are kept at bay from the vicinity of national parks to protect the wildlife”dehradun Updated: Aug 02, 2018 23:21 IST
Terming the death of nine tigers and many elephants in railway accidents and electrocution as alarming, the Uttarakhand high court said on Thursday that the state government cannot be a mute spectator, stressing that the need of the hour was that the “criminal tribes are kept at bay from the vicinity of national parks to protect the wildlife.”
HC pointed out that steps are required to be taken to save the wildlife from poachers, and relocate/shift the Van Gujjars from the forest areas. HT has a copy of the order.
The court directed the chief secretary to file a supplementary affidavit by Friday on a series of points including how many Van Gujjar families are still residing in national parks, including Jim Corbett National Park, and how soon they would be evicted.
A division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh gave the directions while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2012 by Mayank Mainali, chairperson of Ramnagar-based NGO Himalayan Yuva Gramin Vika Sanstha. The petitioner had highlighted environmental concerns after the construction of hotels, resorts and other properties around Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Other points include how soon the Special Tiger Protection Force will become functional to save big cats in national parks, whether the cases filed against poachers under provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 have been decided by forest officers, year-wise details of the pending cases, and what steps have been taken to keep gangs of Gopi, Balko Babariya and Gama Gujjars away from national parks, Jim Corbett reserve.
HC has sought to know from the chief secretary whether a policy had been framed to save wild animals from electrocution and deaths on railway tracks.
The bench asked the chief secretary to inform about the FIRs registered against those who have encroached upon forestland.
“The state government should also open sufficient number of rescue centres inside and outside the national parks, including Jim Corbett National Park, to treat the injured, sick and maimed animals by deploying sufficient number of veterinary doctors and paramedical staff,” the order said.
HC remarked that it was unfortunate that the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has not been made functional, although it was constituted in 2014.
HC made it clear that if no categorical assurance for the deployment of STPF was given, it may be constrained to request the defence ministry to deploy the Eco-Task Force to protect tigers.
The matter has been listed for hearing on Friday.
Other major points raised in HC regarding wildlife in protected areas:
*Advocate general submitted before HC that 57 families of Van Gujjars are still residing in the Corbett area. HC said these families are required to be shifted/relocated away from national parks, including Jim Corbett and Rajaji National Park.
*D Barthwal, who appeared for Dhikuli gram panchayat, told HC that Van Gujjars are running commercial dairies by keeping thousands of buffaloes inside Jim Corbett National Park and they are conniving with the poachers to kill tigers. State-of-the-art technology is required to be installed to keep an eye on poachers.
* Advocate Rakesh Thapliyal apprised the court that Van Gujjars are not being shifted/relocated, adding that the criminal tribes are active in forest areas; with the connivance of Van Gujjars, they are poaching wild animals in national parks.
First Published: Aug 02, 2018 23:21 IST