Remove all illegal constructions in animal corridors near Kaziranga: SC to Assam
A Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the Supreme Court, has directed the Assam government to remove all illegal constructions in the nine animal corridors around Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
In a letter to Assam chief secretary Jishu Baruah on October 6, a copy of which HT has seen, the panel also sought an action taken report from the government within four weeks in this regard.
“It is requested that immediate action is taken to remove all constructions made in violation of Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 12.04.2019 and not permit any new constructions along the nine identified animal corridors,” CEC member secretary Amarnatha Shetty said in the letter.
The CEC’s latest directions came after a report by the Union environment ministry in September indicated that several new structures had cropped up in the concerned corridors in violation of a top court ruling in April, 2019.
The report was prepared by Laetitia J Syiemiong, deputy inspector general of forest (central) of Shillong office of the Union environment, forest and climate change ministry, on the CEC’s order.
The CEC had sought inspections of the nine corridors after activist Rohit Choudhury complained about the new constructions. The inspection revealed that a temple, shops, hotels, restaurants, tea estates and even a government building were built in eight corridors. Most of the constructions were found in Haldibari and Kanchanjuris corridors.
The report noted a lack of coordination between the district administration, forest department and police, and blamed them for violating the top court order. It added that no action was initiated to remove the constructions.
The report also noted that while delineation of the nine animal corridors, spread over 44.205 km, has taken place, the state government is yet to formally notify it. It suggested demolition of illegal constructions in the animal corridors and a proper survey.
“The problem is that the animal corridors fall in revenue land and not in the forest area. Therefore, the forest department cannot remove structures constructed there. It is the duty of the district administrations to do that,” Amit Sahai, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said.
“We have asked the government to constitute a committee, comprising district administration as well as the forest department, so that this issue can be resolved,” he added.
Principal secretary (forest and environment) Avinash Purushottam Das Joshi said the government has received the letter and necessary directions have been issued for action.
Choudhury said the government appeared to be least bothered about encroachment on animal corridors that hamper the safe movement of wild animals.