GUWAHATI, Jan 20 - The Eastern Zone (EZ) Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed constitution of a six-member committee to identify the �movement path� of elephants from the nearby forest to Deepor Beel and vice versa.
In its order dated January 18, 2018, in Original Application Number 19/2014/EZ (Rohit Choudhury versus Union of India and Others), the NGT Bench has further said that the committee will also look into what extent the railway tracks have encroached upon such corridors or paths in these areas.
Besides, the committee will also make proposals to be taken up by the Railways for permanent mitigation measures to offset such encroachments. The mitigation measures �shall include construction of under pass and/or over bridge to make corridors/path free for unhindered movement of the elephants and other wildlife to and from the forest area and Deepor Beel,� said the NGT Bench.
It has further directed that for the purpose of the above terms of reference, the committee shall make field visit and cause surveys and inspections to be carried out by competent field staff and experts on the subject.
The NGT Bench has observed, �We find substance in the submission of Mr Dutta (Ritwick Dutta, advocate of petitioner Rohit Choudhury). After deliberations amongst all the Ld. (learned) Counsel including Mr Devajit Saikia, Ld. Sr. Addl. (Additional) Advocate General, State of Assam, we direct constitution of a Committee consisting of the Chief Secretary, Assam as the chairman, General Manager, NF Railway, as member, PCCF-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam as member, Director of Wildlife Institute of India or his nominee who is an expert on the subject, as member, Principal Secretary, Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Assam as member and Principal Secretary, Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority as convener.�
It needs mention here that in its affidavit before the NGT Bench, respondent No. 8, that is, the Northeast Frontier Railway, has stated that field survey of the area in question was
conducted to identify the sections of the railway track passing through the portion of the sanctuary used by the elephants to cross the railway tracks near Deepor Beel and the railway bridges, �the details of which have been furnished in a tabular form.� The mitigation measure suggested is that the train speed will be reduced further from the present 50 km per hour.
In his submission, advocate Ritwick Dutta has stated that the measure suggested in the NF Railway affidavit would not suffice the requirement. As per him, a committee ought to be constituted to identify the elephant corridors and the railway authorities are to prepare a comprehensive proposal as a long-term permanent measure.
March 14, 2018 is the next date fixed for hearing this case.