10 Sep 2022 2:24 PM GMT
The division bench of Rajasthan High Court comprising Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Kuldeep Mathur has recently prohibited any edeavour to reduce the area of the Tal Chappar Sanctuary.Essentially, the instant suo moto PIL writ petition came to be registered based on a news report indicating that the State Government was proposing to reduce the Eco-Sensitive Zone of the Tal Chappar...
The division bench of Rajasthan High Court comprising Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Kuldeep Mathur has recently prohibited any edeavour to reduce the area of the Tal Chappar Sanctuary.
Essentially, the instant suo moto PIL writ petition came to be registered based on a news report indicating that the State Government was proposing to reduce the Eco-Sensitive Zone of the Tal Chappar Sanctuary to 3 km under the pressure of mine owners and stone crusher operators. Notably, the sanctuary is host to around 4000 blackbucks (deer) and other wildlife as Chinkara, Jungle Cat, Desert Fox, Wild Boar, Indian Desert Jird, Large Grey Mongoose, Indian Hare, over 40 species of Raptors, more than 300 species of resident and migratory birds including Common Crane, Demoiselle Crane, White Stork, White-browed Bushchat, etc.
The court directed that the proceedings for hearing the objections shall be completed expeditiously and the record shall be forwarded to the Central Government at the earliest so as to facilitate issuance of the final notification for declaring the Eco-sensitive Zone around the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Placing reliance on the Apex Court's decision in Hospitality Association of Mudumalai Vs. In Defence of Environment and Animals & Ors. etc. (2020), the court observed that the power of the court to give direction on the issues, of which cognizance has been taken in this suo moto petition, is no longer res integra.
The court refused to permit impleadment of any of the applicants as party in this writ petition at this stage as it was not proposing to pass any order infringing upon the rights of any private land owner/institution etc.
The court opined that a consolidated view of the replies filed on behalf of three respondent-departments, would lead to irrefutable and undisputed conclusion that there is a dire need of increasing the area of the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary because with the laudable conservation efforts of the Forest Department and the bounty provided by nature, the population of the Blackbucks has increased significantly.
Further, the court noted that the possibility of creating a corridor between the Tal Chappar Sanctuary and Jaswantgarh Forest Block, for the present, seems difficult because of the Railway line, which passes between the two areas.
However, the court also stated that the concerned departments can make concerted efforts to create a corridor in the form of underpass etc. so that the Blackbucks and other animals can move freely between the two areas. The court added that if the corridor is not created, measures to relocate the excess population of Blackbucks to the Jaswantgarh Forest Block can definitely be resorted to. For this purpose, the area of the Jaswantgarh Forest Block would have to be increased by appropriating the adjoining Revenue lands and steps also need to be taken to plant local species of trees, fruiting and others, so that aviatory population can also be attracted to these areas, added the court.
The District Collector, Nagaur submitted that a significant chunk of revenue land is available adjoining the forest block Jaswantgarh and that there would be no difficulty either legal or practical to include these revenue lands in the forest block Jaswantgarh. The District Collector, Churu submitted that the road which passes through the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary measures about 2.7 kms. It also poses serious risk to the wildlife in the Sanctuary. It was earlier denotified, but was renotified on 30.09.2019. He submitted that a proper alternate road adjoining the sanctuary is available to cater to the needs of all concerned.
In view of the aforesaid discussion, the court, while disposing of the suo moto petition, issued the following directions:
The court has next listed the matter on 29.11.2022 for perusal of compliance of the aforesaid directions.
Case Title: In Re Tal Chappar Sanctuary, Sujangarh (Churu).
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Raj) 230
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