If State Does Not Protect Tigers, We Might Be Forced To Ask The Army To Protect Them: Uttarakhand HC [Read Order]
The Uttarakhand High Court recently warned that it might request the Ministry of Defence to deploy the Eco-Task Force for protecting tigers if the State Government does not provide a categorical assurance for deployment of the Special Tiger Protection Force.
During a recent hearing, the Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh was informed that while a notification constituting a Special Tiger Protection Force was issued way back in May 2014, it has not been made functional till date.
The State submitted that initially the proposal involved constitution of the Force by direct recruitment. However, due to a change in the policy, it had decided to deploy the P.A.C. as the Special Tiger Protection Force.
Lamenting the inordinate delay, the High Court then emphasised on the need for the State to take remedial measures for protecting the wildlife, observing, “It is unfortunate that though the Special Tiger Protection Force has been constituted on 13.5.2014 but till date, it has not been made functional. This year alone, more than 9 tigers have died in the State and number of elephants have died due to railway accidents and electrocution.
The State cannot be a mute spectator. It is an alarming situation. Remedial measures are required to be taken at the earliest to save the wildlife from poachers and also to relocate/shift the Van Gujjars from the forest areas. It is also the need of the hour that the criminal tribes are kept at bay from the vicinity of national parks to protect the wildlife.”
The observations were made on a petition filed by Ramanagar-based NGO Himalayan Yuva Gramin Vikas Sanstha. During the hearing, the Court was also informed that 57 families of Van Gujjars are residing in the Corbett area. The Court directed these families to be shifted away from national parks like Jim Corbett and Rajaji National Park at the earliest. Chief Secretary of the State of Uttarakhand was further directed to file a supplementary affidavit on the following points:
- How many Van Gujjar families are still residing in National Parks including Jim Corbett National Park in the State of Uttarakhand and how soon they would be evicted from the National Parks, Reserved Forests and Protected Forests?
- How soon the Special Tiger Protection Force will become functional to save the tigers living in National Parks of the State including Jim Corbett National Park?
- Whether the cases filed against the poachers under the relevant provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 have been decided by the Forest Officers. Along with the same, the year- wise details of the pending cases and their respective stage in a tabular form be also supplied.
- What effective and meaningful steps have been taken to keep at bay the gangs of Gopi, Balko Babariya and Gama Gujjars from the National Parks of the State including Jim Corbett National Park?
- Whether any policy has been framed to save the wild animals from electrocution and their deaths on railway tracks?
- The Chief Secretary shall also supply the number of FIRs registered against the persons who have encroached upon the forest land.
Read the Order Here