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SC stays construction of road passing through Rajaji National Park


New Delhi, June 21: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the construction of a road passing through corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves in Uttarakhand, noting that there were "numerous" violations of the forest conservation act.

A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant also issued notice to the Uttarakhand government and sought its reply within three weeks.

Tiger in the jim corbett national park. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

The order was passed after perusing a report, filed by apex court appointed Central Empowered Committee, which said that the road traverses a corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger reserves.

According to the report, the road falls within the buffer area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve and is being constructed without statutory approval of National Board for Wildlife and in violation of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and Forest (Conservation) Act.

Noting the report, the apex court said,"on perusal of the report it prima facie appears that the State of Uttarakhand is constructing Laldhang Chillarkhal Road which passes through corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves.

"It is apparent that advice of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has not been taken and permission from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife has also not been taken. There appears to be numerous violations of the Forest Conservation Act. Therefore, further construction of the road be stopped forthwith. construction of the road be stopped forthwith," the bench said.

The CEC report was filed in pursuance to a plea filed by a wildlife activist Rohit Choudhury seeking stay on construction of roads, bridges and culverts on Laldhang Chillarkhal Road passing through corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves.

It sought fixing of responsibility on officers who have allowed illegal construction works on the Laldhang-Chillarkhal Forest Road road as it is clear violation of Wildlife Protection Act Forest (Conservation) Act and also sought dismantling of all illegal structures including roads, bridges, culverts raised without requisite approvals.

The plea also sought a direction to the Uttarakhand government and others to pay exemplary ecological costs for destroying the critical corridor connecting Rajaji Tiger Reserve with Corbett Tiger Reserve.

Earlier, the National Green Tribunal had constituted a committee, drawing representatives from various departments including wildlife and PWD, to provide it a factual report on alleged illegal construction of a road for use by commercial vehicles in the ecologically sensitive Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

The tribunal's direction had come on a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal who said the road is being built in the tiger reserve without statutory clearances and requisite safeguards. Bansal had said the construction of the road may potentially damage the biological diversity and resources of the reserve. PTI PKS LLP MNL RCJ

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