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Denotification Of Shivalik Elephant Reserve In Uttarakhand: Over 80 Advocates Urge High Court Chief Justice To Take Suo Moto Cognizance

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
6 Dec 2020 8:23 AM GMT
Denotification Of Shivalik Elephant Reserve In Uttarakhand: Over 80 Advocates Urge High Court Chief Justice To Take Suo Moto Cognizance
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Advocates urge Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court to take suo moto action against denotification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve

"Any attempt to further destroy the already extremely deteriorated natural environment in the fragile ecosystem of the beautiful State of Uttarakhand can be prevented by timely intervention of the aware citizenry." Over 80 Advocates, mostly practicing at the Delhi High Court, have made a representation before the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court against denotification of...

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"Any attempt to further destroy the already extremely deteriorated natural environment in the fragile ecosystem of the beautiful State of Uttarakhand can be prevented by timely intervention of the aware citizenry."

Over 80 Advocates, mostly practicing at the Delhi High Court, have made a representation before the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court against denotification of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, for the purpose of developmental activities.

Terming this decision of the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board to be 'reckless', the Advocates wrote,

"The decision prima facie appears to be hasty and short sighted and taken without due consideration for the natural environment and wildlife conservation, despite the ongoing reality of Climate Change and rapidly rising pollution.

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We sincerely request you to take suo moto cognizance of the entire situation in interest of the natural environment and conservation of wildlife and further quash the thoughtless decision of the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board dated 24.11.2020 of denotifying the Shivalik Elephant Reserve and restore the protection granted to the habitat and corridors of the wild Indian Elephants in the state of Uttarakhand."

They insisted that animals have a have a "distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person," as held by the Uttarakhand High Court in the landmark case titled Narayan Dutt Bhat v. Union of India & Ors.

Reliance was also placed on the Supreme Court's order in Hospitality Association of Mudumalai v. In Defence of Environment and Animals & Ors., where it upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court on the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.

The Shivalik Elephant Reserve is the only elephant reserve in the State of Uttarakhand. Spread over 5,000 sq km in 14 state forest divisions, it was notified in the year 2002 under the 'Project Elephant', which was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

On November 24, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board in a meeting chaired by CM Trivendra Singh Rawat de-notified the Reserve for expansion of the Jolly Grant Airport.

Highlighting their concerns with respect to this decision, the Advocates wrote,

"The proposed expansion will threaten hundreds of species of fauna in Thano (near Rajaji National Park) and the elephant corridor nearby at the same time increase the man-animal conflict. The proposed expansion and developmental activities require felling of at least 10,000 trees and countless other varieties of flora. Further, the adverse impact of this denotification shall not remain limited to only elephants but many other wild species of flora and fauna dwelling in the region.

It is pertinent to mention that the State also falls in seismic Zone IV and V, as per the Earthquake Zoning Map, and uprooting Thano will lead to soil erosion, a factor that exacerbated the 2013 Kedarnath floods, endangering countless lives."

It was further pointed out that Indian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). It is 'Endangered' as per the IUCN Red List.

It is stated that the Government has completely lost sight of its duties and obligations under Article 48(a) of the Constitution of India, which mandates that the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country and under various global agreements on climate change and conservation of wildlife.

"Although we do not practice in Uttarakhand but we as citizens of India and inhabitants of the planet believe this to be our foremost duty to preserve, protect and nurture the natural environment," Advocate Saumya Tandon said on behalf of the group.

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