HC upholds TN Govt's action of notifying Elephant Corridor

Chennai, Apr 7: The Madras High Court today (Apr 7) upheld the Tamil Nadu Governmnet's move to notify "Elephant Corridor" in the state.

A division bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and D Hariparanthaman said the Government was fully empowered to notify the Elephant Corridor in Nilgiris district as a management strategy.

The bench was delivering a common order on a batch of petitions in which the legality or otherwise of the Tamil Nadu Government's decision to identify and notify the corridor and its consequential actions were questioned by various parties.

"The government is also authorised by the Centre's Project Elephant since there was no impediment in the Wildlife Protection Act in declaring the corridor by the state Government", the bench said.

The petitioners, who challenged a Government order last year, sought a direction to authorities to keep the corridor without any encroachment and disturbance for the free movement of elephants and other animals.

They said the GO violated the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act.

In its order, the bench said "state is the guardian of the interests of not only the human beings but also the wildlife, under the sacred document/the constitution of India".

"Under the scheme of things proposed in its GO dated 31st August 2010 in the considered opinion of this court, the government has consciously applied its mind to the interests of various parties and has come out with a more practicable and workable solutions", the bench said.

"On the complete analysis of the entire materials placed on record and upon hearing the parties at length, we are unable to find any illegality or irregularity in the action of the State Government in notifying the elephant corridor"the judges said.

The Bench said "it is seen that number of holiday resorts sprung up in the area without approval and in total violation of the provisions of Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forest Act 1949. These Holiday Resorts are carrying on commercial activities in violation of the Act".

"It is also seen that because of the location these Holiday Resorts, large number of tourists along with vehicles are moving frequently in these areas, which led to man-animal conflict in the area", the judges said.

The Bench directed the resort owners and other private land owners to vacate and hand over vacant possession of land falling within the notified corridor to the Collector within three months and in the meanwhile permitted the Government to go on with the project implementation.


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