GUWAHATI, May 23 � The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the applicant as well as the respondents in the Rohit Choudhury vs Union of India and others case, to jointly inspect the mitigation measures taken in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) stretch of the National Highway (NH) -37 to save the wild animals from being hit by speeding vehicles. They have been asked to report to the Tribunal on July 2 next, which has been fixed as the next date for hearing the case.
In his reply to the submissions made by the State Government and others in this case, applicant Rohit Choudhury maintained that the condition slapped on the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) that construction work of the refinery should not precede the work to divert the KNP stretch of the NH-37, has not been complied with.
This has led to increasing number of death of KNP animals on the NH-37. Moreover, there is an attempt to widen the NH in the name of adding at least 3 metre-wide �paved shoulder.� This is going to aggravate the situation more and making this Highway more hazardous for the animals of the National Park, argued the petitioner, expressing the apprehension that the expansion of the width of the Highway is going to encourage greater speed of the vehicles plying on it.
Therefore, the applicant pleaded for rejecting the proposal for adding paved shoulder to the Highway.
However, the State Government in its reply to the contention made by the applicant stated that there was no move to widen the NH-37. Its total width would remain 12 metres as per the stipulation of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). The Highway will have 1.05 metres of its existing 2.5 metres of shoulder paved and the rest of the shoulder would remain earthen as before.
Moreover, the expert committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoEF) as per the directive of the NGT, also viewed that there was no new likelihood of the animals being hit while crossing the Highway, due to the paved shoulder, said the State Government.
Meanwhile, the State Transport Department has stated in its affidavit before the NGT that by this time it has �allotted� three interceptor vehicles for detection of offences in the KNP stretch of the NH-37. These interceptor vehicles were procured recently and pressed into service after initial training of the operators.
Moreover, three trained Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs) are deputed to the districts of Nagaon, Jorhat and Golaghat for imparting training to the MVIs and EIs on utilisation of the interceptor vehicles at optimum level.
Necessary infrastructure will has to be built up on both sides of the KNP stretch for 24 hour duty by the Transport Department officers and staff, said the Department in its affidavit, adding, more funds would be required for procurement of additional interceptors and speed guns etc.