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Uttarakhand High Court Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of De-notification Of Shivalik Elephant Reserve

Akshita Saxena
5 Jan 2021 2:11 PM GMT
Uttarakhand High Court Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of De-notification Of Shivalik Elephant Reserve
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The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of denotification of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, the only elephant reserve in the State, for the purpose of developmental activities. A Division Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Alok Kumar Verma issued notices to the Central and the State Government, and fixed the matter for hearing on...

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The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of denotification of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, the only elephant reserve in the State, for the purpose of developmental activities.

A Division Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Alok Kumar Verma issued notices to the Central and the State Government, and fixed the matter for hearing on 22nd February, 2021.


The development comes after several Delhi-based lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice, urging him to take appropriate action in the interest of natural environment and conservation of wildlife.

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

The lawyers had asserted that decision to de-notify the Reserve for expansion of the Jolly Grant Airport is "hasty", "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.

They had 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.

The High Court has now taken cognizance of the matter and has impleaded the following authorities as Respondent-parties:

  • Union of India
  • State of Uttarakhand
  • Principal Secretary, Forest & Environment, Govt of Uttarakhand
  • Uttarakhand State Wildlife Advisory
  • Principal Chief Conservator Of Forest (General), Uttarakhand
  • Principal Chief Conservator Of Forest (Wildlife), Uttarakhand
  • Chief Wild Life Warden, Uttarakhand
  • Director, Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand

Spread over 5,000 sq km in 14 state forest divisions, the Shivalik Elephant Reserve 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.

"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," the lawyers had said in their letter.

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