SC committee asks Assam to submit report on illegal construction in Kaziranga animal corridor
The letter issued on Tuesday by Amarnatha Shetty, the member-secretary of CEC, to MK Yadava, chief wildlife warden, Assam, was in response to a complaint filed in June by environmental activist Rohit Choudhury.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 17:52 IST
A Supreme Court-constituted central empowered committee (CEC) has directed the chief wildlife warden of Assam to submit a report on alleged illegal construction in an animal corridor close to the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and the tiger reserve in violation of the apex court’s order.
The letter issued on Tuesday by Amarnatha Shetty, the member-secretary of CEC, to MK Yadava, chief wildlife warden, Assam, was in response to a complaint filed in June by environmental activist Rohit Choudhury against the construction in Kanchanjuri animal corridor of KNP, which is renowned for one-horned rhinos.
“It is requested that a factual report on the complaint made, specifically on the alleged violation of the SC order dated April 12, 2019, may please be sent to the CEC at the earliest,” Shetty’s letter read.
In its order, the SC had banned all mining-related activities along the KNP area and a catchment area of rivers/streams/rivulets originating in the tribal-dominated Karbi Anglong hills and flowing into the national park and the tiger reserve.
“No new construction shall be permitted on private lands, which form part of the nine identified animal corridors,” the SC order had stipulated.
The complaint by Choudhury alleged “blatant violations” of the apex court’s ruling in connivance with the Assam government, resulting in contempt of court and orders should be issued to demolish the construction and connectivity of the animal corridor restored at the earliest.
“A powerful and influential person is involved in undertaking the construction of a huge building with an approach road within the critical Kanchanjuri animal corridor, one of the nine identified corridors of KNP and tiger reserve,” the complaint read.
“These nine corridors are a lifeline for the wildlife of Kaziranga, particularly the long-ranging species such as Indian Elephant, tiger among other forms of wildlife,” it added.
Choudhury alleged that since the ongoing construction can be easily seen from the national highway running close to KNP, the illegal activity is going on in connivance with the area’s forest, civil and police administrations.
The complainant mentioned that though the matter was brought to the notice of the state’s chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna in June, no action was taken to stop the illegal construction.
“If the destruction of notified animal corridors continues in this manner then it is a matter of time that all the corridors will be destroyed and blocked and Kaziranga tiger reserve and its wildlife will be completely isolated from Karbi Anglong hills, which are a lifeline to the beleaguered animals during the annual floods,” it said.
Choudhury urged the CEC to intervene and recommend contempt of court proceedings against all violators of the SC ruling, including government officials.
Yadava and other forest department officials didn’t respond to the CEC’s move, despite repeated attempts.