GUWAHATI, Aug 19 - The area of the golf course being developed by the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) authorities in its township is a part of the vital elephant corridor of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve. It also comes under the �No Development Zone� of the Numaligarh Refinery. The site consists of a number of water bodies which have been regularly frequented by the pachyderms for their foraging and survival needs. The NRL authorities started building the golf course by felling hundreds of trees without obtaining any environment and forest clearance from the department concerned.
This is stated in a joint site inspection report prepared by Assistant Conservators of Forest of the Golaghat Forest Division Deepika Choudhary, IFS and Davinder Suman, IFS. The joint inspection of the site was carried out on July 11, 2015.
They said to restrict the entry of elephants, a high-rise wall with barbed wire fencing (having Razor Edge) has been erected illegally. This illegal wall draws the stark line between the highly dense Deopahar forests and the laid bare grounds of the golf course, which give the semblance of sand dunes of a desert land. It is explicitly showcasing the apathy of managers towards the environment in general and nature in particular.
This whole stretch of around five hectares of land has been badly excavated after denuding the land of its forest cover. The ruthless excavation and mining of the site has been testified in an enquiry conducted by forest officers in which they seized volumes of sand stone, building stone etc. freshly excavated from the area. Excavator machines used for the purpose have also been seized. M/S Jai Shree Krishna Contractors were engaged for construction and maintenance of the nine-hole golf course for a period of 18 months starting from December 1, 2014. The fertile topsoil was removed leaving the land unproductive, said the report.
In this context, they observed violations that include violation of Section 2(ii) and Section 2(iv) and Section 3A of Forest Conservation act, 1980 have been violated by the NRL authorities, judgement of the Supreme Court of India in the TN Godavarman versus Government of India case.(WP 202/1995), Section 63, section 64 and Section 65 of Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2013, Section 34 and 35 of Assam Forest Regulation, 1891 destruction of a key corridor of Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve and violations of the legal provisions in regards to obtaining prior permission to fell trees etc.
Butterfly Park: Both the Assistant Conservators of Forests of the Golaghat Division also said in another report jointly prepared by them on the basis of the July 11, 2015 site inspection, that the Butterfly Park developed by the NRL authorities within the Refinery Township on an around 29 acres of land, encompasses a water stream originating from the hills of Deopahar. But the stream has no exit from the park. It clearly shows that the natural waterways and water courses originating from Deopahar and Kaliyani Hill are obstructed.
Besides, the hillocks of Kaliyani Pahar have been cut and flattened to suit the park requirements. A number of exotic species have been planted by uprooting and clearing indigenous plant species. The most questionable structure found in the park is a huge metallic framework. It is a permanent structure given the shape of a butterfly larvae with nylon nets laid all over. A varied mix of plant species have been planted within that structure. During the peak flowering season when frequency of butterfly visit increases, the meshwork is spread all over to hinder the exit of the butterflies through the nylon nets. The butterflies here are subjected to partial control and their free movement is restricted. Thus, in a way kept in near captive conditions amounting to �hunting� under section 16 of the WPA, 1972.
Similarly, a room named Moth Pavilion, has been used to put on display butterflies and moths captured in an unauthorised and unscientific manner during their visit to the park, said the two Assistant Conservators of Forests.