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Resort construction near Kaziranga National Park afoot despite SC ban

GUWAHATI: Construction is in full swing on a resort near Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) in Assam in violation of a Supreme Court order banning building work on animal corridors
PUBLISHED ON JAN 13, 2021 11:42 PM IST

GUWAHATI: Construction is in full swing on a resort near Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) in Assam in violation of a Supreme Court order banning building work on animal corridors.

Work on the Green Ashiyana Resort is taking place on the Haldhibari animal corridor of KNPTR; the state forest department and the local administration are blaming each other for the flouting of the ban.

This is the second instance of construction near KNPTR. In July last year, HT had reported about the construction of a building on the Kanchanjuri animal corridor of the park, a UNESCO world heritage site known as the largest habitat of one-horned rhinos.

In April, 2019, acting on an application by animal activist Rohit Choudhury, the SC had “restrained” all mining along the southern boundary of KNPTR and in the entire catchment area of rivers/streams and rivulets originating in the Karbi Anglong hill ranges and flowing into the park.

“No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the nine identified animal corridors,” the order said.

Despite the SC order, construction is taking place on private land on the animal corridors in and around KNPTR.

In September, the central empowered committee of the top court had written to the Assam chief secretary as well as chief wildlife warden, terming the violations a “serious issue” because they amounted to contempt of the court.

On January 4, P Sivakumar, director of KNPTR, wrote to the Golaghat deputy commissioner mentioning the construction of the Green Ashiyana Resort on an animal corridor and urging the district administration to take action against it.

“The resort has constructed a boundary wall over the stream in the southern side of the resort. During October, 2019, a wild elephant while coming back from the Karbi Anglong area to the park had got stuck up inside the boundary wall enclosures of the resort,” said the letter, a copy of which has been seen by HT.

Despite instructions by the forest department to remove the boundary wall over the stream and allow smooth movement of wild animals, the resort authorities didn’t do anything.

“The resort is carrying out new construction work on the eastern side. They are not allowing forest personnel to carry out road cum high land work and are trying to {wrest} control over the temple and fishery pond which they have constructed inside,” the letter added.

Golaghat deputy commissioner Bibhash Chandra Modi said the administration came to know about the construction just two days ago from the forest department. He said action would be taken against the resort soon and the SC order complied with.

“This is a mockery and contempt of the SC order and neither forest department nor civil administration are serious on implementing the order. While the blame game continues, it is the wildlife and the environment which is getting affected. The SC should take action against the KNPTR director as well as the Golaghat DC for clear violation of its order,” said wildlife activist Rohit Choudhury.

Owner of the Green Ashiyana Resort, Kishore Hazarika, said he had been in occupation of the property since 2003 and till 2019 he was not informed by either forest officials or the district administration that the area falls in an animal corridor.

“All this is part of a vindictive campaign against me. There is no notification yet mentioning that the area is in an animal corridor. And even if that is the case, there should be a comprehensive compensation package if action is taken against me or others who have been staying in the area,” said Hazarika.

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