The National Green Tribunal on Monday constituted a committee, drawing representatives from various departments including Wildlife and PWD, to provide it a factual report on alleged illegal construction of a road for use by commercial vehicles in the ecologically sensitive Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand.
A petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal said the road is being built in the tiger reserve without statutory clearances and requisite safeguards. Mr. Bansal said the construction of the road may potentially damage the biological diversity and resources of the reserve.
His plea claimed that the Uttarakhand government on March 1, 2017, without considering the negative impact on the biodiversity-rich stretch, opened the Laldang-Chillarkhal road in the reserve for commercial vehicles.
And hence, it said, the “State of Uttarakhand completely lost its vision with regard to their duty for the protection of ecology, biodiversity of the said area.”
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel formed the committee comprising representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Uttarakhand Public Works Department and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
“The issue raised in this application relates to ex-situ conservation and in-situ conservation methods for protection of biodiversity and biological resources of Laldhang-Chillarkhal buffer area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand,” the Bench said.
It said it is necessary to seek a factual and action-taken report from the joint committee before considering the matter further. The report has to be furnished within three months by email.
The NTCA will be the nodal agency for compliance and coordination.
The matter was posted for further hearing on August 13.
Mr. Bansal’s plea also mentions that the NTCA on March 14, after learning that the Uttarakhand government carried on with the construction of the road without taking statutory clearance, sent a letter to Chief Wildlife Warden (Uttarakhand) and sought factual information on the case.
The petition said there already is a closure order from District Forest Officer of Lansdowne against the construction of the Laldhang-Chillarkhal road.