Relocation Of Van Gujjars From Forest Areas: SC Directs Status Quo On Uttarakhand HC Order [Read Order]
The Supreme Court has stayed the order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court directing relocation of Van Gujjars or nomadic pastoralists residing in the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
The Bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra directed status quo to be maintained by the parties, while issuing notice on a petition filed by one Tarun Joshi challenging the High Court order dated August 2.
In the impugned order, the High Court bench comprising Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh had demanded to know how soon the Van Gujjar families can be evacuated from national parks, reserved forests and protected forests.
The High Court had also 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.
The observations were made on a petition filed by Ramanagar-based NGO Himalayan Yuva Gramin Vikas Sanstha. During the hearing, the Court was 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