Probe into digging, construction activities on Kaziranga animal corridors

We found three violations including expansion by a resort. Action will be taken, says Tiger reserve’s director

Published - May 08, 2021 04:25 pm IST - GUWAHATI

The activities are barely 50 metres from where a structure linked to the local MLA came up a year ago. Special Arrangement.

The activities are barely 50 metres from where a structure linked to the local MLA came up a year ago. Special Arrangement.

The authorities in Assam’s Golaghat and Nagaon districts have begun probing cases of clearance of forest land, digging and construction activities on at least three animal corridors within the eco-sensitive zone of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.

These two districts share large swathes of the 1,300-sq. km. tiger reserve that has nine identified animal corridors. Seven of these — Amguri, Bagori, Chirang, Deosur, Harmati, Hatidandi and Kanchanjuri — are in Nagaon district while Haldibari and Panbari corridors are in Golaghat district.

Crucial for animals

These corridors are crucial for the rhinos, elephants, tigers, deer and other animals that escape a flooded Kaziranga during the monsoon months for the safety of the hills of Karbi Anglong district beyond the highway skirting the southern boundary of the tiger reserve.

Tiger reserve’s director P. Sivakumar said he had prior to the Assembly elections in March-April written to the Golaghat district authorities underlining some construction activities on the Haldibari corridor.

“We had a joint inspection with officials of the Revenue Department two days ago and found three violations on the corridor, including expansion by a resort. Further action will be taken in the coming days,” he told The Hindu on Saturday.

A bid to construct a permanent stage for religious activities was stopped a couple of months ago in a tea estate on the Panbari animal corridor, officials said.

But the most blatant violation has been on the Kanchanjuri animal corridor in Nagaon district. A patch of forest land has been cleared and a section of a tea plantation dug up apparently for a water reservoir, wildlife activists in the area said.

This has been happening over the past few days in plain view beside the highway. The activities are barely 50 metres from where a structure linked to the local MLA came up a year ago.

Supreme Court’s order violated

Rohit Choudhury, a green activist based in Bokakhat (headquarters of Kaziranga), lodged an FIR at the Jakhalabandha police station in Nagaon district on May 7 with photographs of these activities. He said these activities violated the Supreme Court’s order on April 4, 2019. The order said: “No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the nine identified animal corridors.”

Mrinmoy Das, Nagaon’s DSP, said they have treated the FIR as a piece of information and would be seeking replies from the Forest and Revenue Departments concerned.

“There are no legal provisions for registering a case if a member of the public complains about contempt of court unless the court itself or the government files an FIR. We can act when the departments involved give us the feedback and seek action,” he said.

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