1 Sep 2022 3:41 PM GMT
In a significant order, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the Central Government to consider declaring the elephant corridors in the Jim Corbett National Park/ Ramnagar Forest as 'Eco-sensitive zones' under the Environment Protection Act. The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe also directed the state and central governments to not allow construction in...
In a significant order, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the Central Government to consider declaring the elephant corridors in the Jim Corbett National Park/ Ramnagar Forest as 'Eco-sensitive zones' under the Environment Protection Act.
The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe also directed the state and central governments to not allow construction in any form like hotels, resorts, restaurants etc. which fall within the identified elephant corridors in the area in question.
The Court issued these orders while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea moved by the Independent Medical Initiative Society with a view to save the Elephant Corridors near Corbett National Park, namely, Malani-Kota, Chilkiya – Kota and South Patlidun – Chilkiya, Elephant Corridors so as to prevent any kind of disturbance in the natural movement of wild elephants using the said Elephant Corridors.
The Court noted that the Natural Habitat of wild elephants in the area had been encroached upon and obstructed with the construction of a road and resorts on revenue land along the Kosi river.
"The natural movement of elephants which is a nomadic breed, and must move from one place to another in search of food and water, has been obstructed," the Court prima facie observed.
The Court was informed by the Counsel for the petitioner Dushyant Mainali that on either side of the Kosi River, there are forests areas and the elephants come to the river to meet their water requirements, and also cross over the river to go to the other part of the forest, across the river.
However, it was further submitted that, on account of the construction of the road as well as the resorts along with the river, the movement of the elephants had been obstructed and there have been numerous instances, where man and elephant conflict has taken place.
In view of these submissions, the Court, at the Court observed that the Elephants are intelligent animals and they have also tried to adapt to the changes which have come about in the topology and that they have started using areas, which are still available as a corridor for movement to cross-over the river and move from Jim Corbett National Park to the forest falling in Ramnagar Division, and vice versa.
Further, noting that on account of the heavy traffic in Ramnagar Mohaan Road during the day, Elephants have started crossing the road mostly at night, the bench, while taking into account the Apex Court's judgment in the case of Hospitality Association of Mudumalai versus In defence of Environment and Animals and 2 others etc, issued the following directions:
[It may be noted that in the abovementioned case, the Supreme Court had, in 2020, upheld the validity of the Tamil Nadu Government notification declaring an 'Elephant Corridor' in the Sigur Plateau of Nilgiris District.]
- The respondent authorities should protect the already identified elephant corridors in the area. Competent and sufficient staff on either side of the elephant corridors be deployed to ensure safe passage to the elephants during the night hours between 10:00 PM to 04:00 AM through the identified elephant corridors.
- Not to allow, or undertake, any further road construction which cuts across the identified elephant corridors without providing adequate infrastructure to allow unobstructed and safe movement of wild elephants across such roads.
Not to use chili powder to prevent the movement of elephants in their corridors. The said direction shall continue and the respondents are also restrained from using any other obstructive methods to prevent the movement of wild elephants in the corridors by using gunshots and electric fences.
With this, the Court directed that the directions issued should be strictly complied with and it further directed the respondents are directed to file their compliance report on or before December 08, 2022.
Case title - Independent Medical Initiative Society v. State of Uttarakhand & others
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