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Offending structures gallore in Kaziranga

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, Jan 23 - There are 23 offending structures located on the animal corridors of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), while there are 35 such structures located within the 500 metres from the Park outside the animal corridors, said the Director of the National Park in his latest affidavit filed before the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal.

The affidavit said that of the offending structures located on the animal corridors, four are most offending as they have been built on the Karbi Anglong Hills by cutting hill slopes. One of these structures is a new road, the second one is a hilltop resort built by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and the third one is a wall built by the Karbi Anglong Sericulture Department, said the KNP Director in his affidavit.

Moreover, the Director said there are 10 stone quarries in the close proximity of the KNP, that is, at a distance of 1 to 1.8 km from the Park and from 1.17 km to 2.27 km from the Third Edition of the National Park.

There are also two brick kilns in close proximity of the Park. Both of them are located at a distance of 2.7 km from KNP, while there are 11 stone crushers and one timber saw mill located within the 10-kilometre �no development zone�, said the Park Director.

It needs mention here that the NGT, through an order issued on November 26, 2015 in the Original Application No.174/2013, asked the Director of the Park to �file a complete and comprehensive affidavit dealing with the various aspects, including hotels and projects and other commercial activity which are coming up within 10 km of the boundary of the Kaziranga National Park,� and also to �file a list of such constructions or activity which are offending the distance of 10 km as contemplated under the orders of the Hon�ble Supreme Court of India.�

The NGT order further said, �We have directed the Director of Kaziranga National Park to conduct a surprise inspection of the road abutting Kaziranga National Park and steps that have been taken by the State of Assam in regard to prevention of animal deaths on the roads by the vehicular traffic.�

In this context, the relevant order of the Supreme Court that was passed on December 4, 2006, may also be quoted. The Apex Court said in that order, �The Ministry is directed to give a final opportunity to all States/Union Territories to respond to its letter dated 27th May, 2005. The State of Goa also is permitted to give appropriate proposal in addition to what is said to have already been sent to the Central Government. The communication sent to the States/ Union Territories shall make it clear that if the proposals are not sent even now within a period of four weeks of receipt of the communication from the Ministry, this Court may have to consider passing orders for implementation of the decision that was taken on 21st January, 2002, namely, notification of the areas within 10 km of the boundaries of the sanctuaries and national parks as eco-sensitive areas with a view to conserve the forest, wildlife and environment, and having regard to the precautionary principles. If the States/Union Territories now fail to respond, they would do so at their own risk and peril.�

The KNP Director said in his affidavit that the Apex Court, through its order passed on April 21, 2014 had clearly stated that until the Government of India follows all the provisions under Rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, prohibition under law to carry out mining beyond 1 km of the boundaries of National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries cannot be imposed.

Moreover, there are mining sites starting from 1000 metres to several kilometres on the southern side in the Karbi Anglong hills, but these areas do not fall within the administrative jurisdiction of the Park authorities, said the KNP Director in his affidavit.

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