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SC directs Chief Wildlife Warden to submit �factual report�

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, July 15 - The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has sought a �factual report� from the State�s Chief Wildlife Warden on a complaint lodged by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury alleging violation of the Supreme Court�s April 12, 2019 order on keeping the nine animal corridors of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP and TR) free from encroachment, constructions, etc.

The apex court had on April 12, 2019 ordered, �No new construction shall be permitted on private land which forms part of the nine identified animal corridors of Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Assam.�

Choudhury had on June 30 last lodged a complaint with the Member Secretary of the CEC, alleging construction of a �huge building� on the Kanchanjuri Animal Corridor� of Kaziranga National Park in blatant violation of the apex court�s order. He pleaded for initiation of contempt proceedings against the contemnors, including the Government officials and the �powerful person� involved in this �illegal� act and steps to demolish this structure. The nine corridors referred to in the apex court�s order are the lifeline for the wildlife of Kaziranga, particularly the long-ranging species like Indian elephant and tiger, among other forms of wildlife, he said.

He alleged that considering the fact that construction of this structure is very much visible from the busy National Highway No-37, there can be no doubt that this violation is taking place in connivance with officials of the civil administration of Nagaon district, particularly those of Kaliabor Civil and Revenue authority, KNP and TR, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Nagaon (Territorial) Division and Police Department. This act of violation of the apex court�s order was already brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary of Assam, but to no avail, he rued.

About a month prior to Choudhury�s letter to the CEC, the KNP authorities, reacting to Choudhury�s complaint to them, had written (Letter No. KNP/FG.789/Animal Corridor) to the Conservator of Forests, Northern Assam Circle on June 7, �� violations of Hon�ble Supreme Court�s order was noticed at Harmuty, Kanchanjuri, Hatidandi and Amguri Corridors.�

The KNP authorities also informed that the SDO (Civil) of Kaliabor was informed of those developments. The Circle Officer of Kaliabor inspected the area and served notice on the occupants who violated the order. The KNP authorities requested the Conservator of Forests, Northern Assam Circle to instruct the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Nagaon to take necessary action and to pursue the matter with the Nagaon Deputy Commissioner for constituting a Circle-level committee to monitor the corridor area and to take action in case of any violation.

This was followed by a letter from the DFO, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division to the Nagaon DC (Letter No. B/WLG/Encroachment/2020/4111-15) on encroachment of Government land in Amguri Animal Corridor on June 15 last.

The letter stated that some people from Amguri Debera Chang Gaon were encroaching Government land under Amguri Animal Corridor near NH-37 by clearing jungles and fencing up the area. The area falls under Amguri Animal Corridor, one of the 9 identified KNP animal corridors, it said and referred to the above Supreme Court order in this respect. The DFO requested the DC to �cause an enquiry and to take appropriate action to stop encroachment in the animal corridor.�

Significantly, in his complaint to the KNP authorities, Choudhury clearly mentioned the undergoing construction of the �huge building� on the Kanchanjuri Corridor. But both of the KNP authorities and the DFO, Eastern Assam, preferred to remain silent about this structure.

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