Supreme Court panel flays Assam on Kaziranga animal corridors invasion

The Supreme Court had in April 2019 barred new construction on private land within the animal corridors

Updated - April 28, 2022 11:29 pm IST

Published - April 28, 2022 09:05 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

A one-horned rhino with its baby in Bagori range in Kaziranga National Park. File

A one-horned rhino with its baby in Bagori range in Kaziranga National Park. File | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

A Supreme Court panel has prodded the Assam government for laxity in checking illegal construction activities on the animal corridors of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.

The 1,300 sq. km wildlife habitat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best-known address of the world’s one-horned rhinos, has nine notified animal corridors. Seven of these _ Amguri, Bagori, Chirang, Deosur, Harmati, Hatidandi and Kanchanjuri _ are in Nagaon district while Haldibari and Panbari are in the adjoining Golaghat district.

The Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had in a meeting on April 4 directed the Chief Secretary and other representatives of the Assam government to provide an action-taken report on the encroachment of and illegal constructions on the animal corridors as soon as possible.

The illegal activities are in violation of a Supreme Court order of April 12, 2019, which barred new construction on private lands that are within the corridors that the animals of Kaziranga use to move in and out of the flood-prone park. The order was based on a petition filed by Assam-based environment activist Rohit Choudhury.  

The minutes of the meeting said the Assam government was made to assure the CEC that it would also provide photographs of the constructions undertaken on the animal corridors, before and after their delineation, in violation of the Supreme Court order.

The State government also assured the CEC of providing the names and designations of the officers who granted permission for the construction activities in violation of the court order along with relevant documents and copies of the notices issued for the removal or demolition of the illegal structures.

Among other reports the State government has been asked to provide is the action taken against the encroachment of the eco-sensitive zone of Kaziranga together with the list of construction activities that did not have the approval of a sub-committee of the National Board of Wildlife.

The CEC has been writing to the Assam government since 2020 for action against the illegal activities on the animal corridors. The latter has gone slow as a few MLAs are allegedly involved in such activities.

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