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Stay on NRL expansion to continue: NGT

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, Dec 8 - The National Green Tribunal today refused to stay its order restraining Numaligarh Refinery Limited from carrying out any construction activity in the no-development zone in Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

�This project must be held up. We are ready to expedite the hearing in the case,� a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The observation came while hearing a plea filed by Rohit Choudhary, a resident of Assam, seeking directions to immediately demolish the concrete wall constructed by the Numaligarh Refinery Limited near the Deopahar reserve forest as it was obstructing the movement of elephants.

Choudhary alleged that Numaligarh Refinery, a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and Assam Government, has illegally built a two-km boundary wall for a golf course around their township which has obstructed elephant movement, causing the death of an elephant calf in May.

Advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for Choudhary, said that the construction of the boundary wall and golf course is in violation of the notification which declared areas adjoining Kaziranga National Park as no-development zone.

He said that the site inspection report shows sharp contrast between the neighbouring forest areas which have high forest canopy density and the golf course with no trees at all.

�During the visit, elephant tracks were found all around the golf course site suggesting that the area is regularly used by the elephants. The area is a continuous corridor wherein the elephants were moving freely,� he said.

The Tribunal had earlier pulled up Numaligarh Refinery Limited for cutting trees to construct a boundary wall for a golf course in the no-development zone in Kaziranga Park, saying its forest clearance was an �abuse of law.�

The MoEF had also submitted a letter issued by the Divisional Forest Officer of Golaghat Division to the Deputy Commissioner which stated that the land acquired by the refinery was in clear violation of the established laws, rules and conditions.

The letter had said the allotment of the land, subsequent constructions of huge boundary wall by the refinery have been proving disastrous to such natural system and the loss of critical forest, animal corridors, biodiversity, and ecosystem cannot be recreated. � PTI

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