SC Committee Arrests Assam Government Over Illegal Constructions In Kaziranga Animal Corridors | Latest India News

GUWAHATI: The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court has fired the government of Assam for negligence in protecting 9 wildlife corridors in and around Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR).

In a meeting earlier this month with senior Assam government officials led by Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua, the CEC ordered the state government to expedite the demolition and removal illegal structures on animal corridors to protect wildlife that use these routes.

In April 2019, the Supreme Court adopted an order prohibiting any construction on private land that is part of the corridors. But subsequent studies have detected 22 illegal constructions, only one of which has been removed to date.

The structures include a government guest house, a wine store, 6 vehicle parking spaces, five resorts, residential buildings, a wedding hall, two restaurants, a cafe and a hotel. On March 11, a wild elephant was electrocuted after accidentally touching an electrical transformer in one of these corridors.

“Despite undertakings made by the state government in affidavits dated May 6, 2019 and May 8, 2019 filed with the Honorable Supreme Court, the execution of the order of the Honorable Supreme Court regarding the nine lanes It only started after the CEC forwarded the report dated September 10, 2021 from the Integrated Regional Officer of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to the Chief Secretary, Assam, observed the CEC during the March 4th meeting Details of the meeting were released on March 10th.

The CEC observed that while the nine corridors were identified a long time ago, the state government had not yet delineated their boundaries (spread over a total length of 44.20 km), which is a prerequisite to the implementation of the April 2019 order of the Supreme Court.

“Long-distance animals traditionally follow the same route to move from one landscape to another. Therefore, blocking these routes and providing other alternative corridors will not achieve the objectives,” observed the CEC.

The CEC requested the state government to relocate the “dhabas”, parking lots, etc. existing animal corridors to new locations and also to acquire land on either side of the national road near KNPTR as a matter of priority.

The CEC said it was surprised that instead of accepting a report on the demarcation of the corridors prepared by a committee constituted by the government of Assam in 2019, the state government reconstituted the committee and included two ministers (both elected in regions close to KNPTR).

“The need to reconstitute the committee is not understood, especially since the mandate of the (previous) committee was not to identify the corridor but to demarcate the boundaries of the nine identified corridors mentioned in the order of the SC of April 2019,” observed the CEC.

During the meeting, the Chief Secretary of Assam agreed to provide the CEC with details of the activities that took place in the animal corridors in violation of the Supreme Court order along with photographs of the constructions . He also agreed to provide details of the officers who granted permission to authorize these constructions.

The Chief Secretary further agreed to provide details of the measures taken to prevent the constructions, officers responsible for enforcing the guidelines, copies of the notifications to constitute the 2 boundary committees, notices issued for the demolition of the constructions illegal and the measures taken to develop car parks and facilities. for travelers outside the KNPTR Eco-Sensitive Zone and outside the outer limits of the 9 Wildlife Corridors.

Earlier, in his presentation to the CEC on March 4, the chief secretary admitted that the state was struggling to enforce Supreme Court guidelines banning construction on private land falling into animal corridors due to protests from the people residing there as their livelihoods will be affected. and no resettlement program was offered.

He informed that the state government is planning to acquire all the private land in the corridors to make it a “wildlife-friendly and environmentally friendly raised corridor” over a stretch of 34 km at a cost of ‘about 6000 crore in order to “make the passage of wild animals free”.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an associate editor based in Guwahati. It covers all eight North Eastern states and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.
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