GUWAHATI, Oct 1 - The Kaziranga National Park (KNP) authorities have been hiding facts on encroachment on the national park�s land, alleged RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury.
In a statement here on Friday, Choudhury alleged that he was refused information on the encroached area of the National Park by the authorities. The KNP authorities have not been implementing Section 34 A of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, he said.
He said that in reply to one of his RTI applications, the KNP authorities have said, �There is no encroachment in original Kaziranga National Park for an area of 429.93 sq km, including 1st and 4th Addition areas. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th Addition areas have not yet been handed over by the revenue authority.�
Thus, Choudhury alleged, the KNP authorities have clearly avoided an answer to a question on the status of encroachment in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th Addition areas of the Park.
The RTI application was filed on June 3, 2015. The first appeal on it was made on July 15, 2015 and the second appeal on it was filed before the Assam Information Commission on October 17, 2015.
The matter was heard by State Information Commissioner, Assam Pinuel Basumatary on September 6, 2016 and the Information Commissioner observed on hearing the matter, � The document submitted by the SPIO does not contain any evidence such as copy of postal receipt of dispatch of the said letter dated 22.06.2015.�
The Information Commissioner ordered, �The SPIO shall provide the same to the appellant, free of cost, by registered post, within 7 days of receipt of this order.�
From the reply it is evident that Kaziranga National Park authorities have deliberately denied the information only to �mislead� the people on the status of encroachment on the National Park land, Choudhury alleged.
It needs mention here that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report on Kaziranga had observed that the Forest Department had admitted that due to negligence of the Revenue as well as the Forest Departments, the areas falling under 2nd, 3rd and 5th additions could not be taken over resulting in rampant encroachments. They also accepted audit findings that constant construction activities, parking lots, construction of dhabas etc., had led to blocking of most of the designated animal corridors. As regards the boundary demarcation, they stated that a new type of boundary pillar is being proposed to be established after proper survey of the boundaries.