Sun, 28 Nov 2021

New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI): The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) committee which recently visited Corbett Tiger Reserve regarding alleged illegal construction of bridges, buildings and water bodies by the felling of trees, on Friday observed that the entire ongoing construction activities in one of the highest density tiger habitat of the world without any competent sanctions and by violating the various statutory provisions/court orders is an excellent example of both administrative and managerial failure.

NTCA noted that the work has been executed by violating provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 as well as Indian Forest Act,1927 which attract penal provisions and illegal construction of road and bridges is of such a nature that it can meet the requirement of "single-lane highway" in core/ critical habitat of 'Corbett Tiger Reserve'.

On a petition filed in Delhi High Court by Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal (wildlife activist and conservationist), a Committee constituted by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has found that in order to allow illegal construction of roads and building in Corbett Tiger Reserve, Forest Officer has forged the Government records.

The Committee also recommends that all illegal constructions in Morghatti and Pakhrau FRH campuses be demolished and eco-restoration work be undertaken with immediate effect. Also, the cost involved for the same to be recovered from the concerned officers.

The committee opined that the Regional office of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shall initiate action against the responsible officers as per the provisions given in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and other competent authority for the violations of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and Indian Forest Act, 1927.

NTCA also recommends appropriate actions are required against all the forest officers responsible for such grave violations. "Only Pakhrau Tiger Safari work had the necessary approvals. But irregularities have been observed in the felling of trees. 10,000 trees as reported felled in the news article is an exaggerated number. More accurate estimation can be done by using remote sensing data from the Forest Survey of India and the National Remote Sensing Centre," says the NTCA committee report.

The Delhi High Court earlier had directed the NTCA to decide the representation made by the Petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who sought the protection of biological diversity at Corbett National Park. The plea sought direction over the alleged illegal construction of bridges and walls within the tiger breeding habitat of Corbett Tiger Reserve.

The petitioner had sought the intervention of the Court to not only save the tiger breeding habitat of Corbett Tiger Reserve but to also save, secure, protect and conserve the rich biological diversity, flora and fauna, ecology of the whole landscape of Corbett National Park.

The plea alleged that illegal construction of bridges and walls is taking place within Tiger Breeding Habitat of Corbett Tiger Reserve and that too without taking any kind of approval from Respondent as required under Section 38 (O) of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972.

The petition alleged that instead of taking any action against the said wrongdoing, National Tiger Conservation Authority in its letter dated August 12, 2021, requested the Chief Wildlife Warden, Uttarakhand to look into the matter and to provide a factual status report on the issue raised by the petitioner.

"As per Section 38 (O) (g) of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972, the project proponent can do any type of construction activity in the Tiger Reserve Area only after getting approval from NTCA and the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). However, in the present case instead of taking any kind of approval under section 38 (O) (b) of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972, the project proponent not only started a rampant illegal construction of bridges and wall within the tiger breeding habitat of Corbett Tiger Reserve but also started felling of trees for the said purpose," the plea read. (ANI)

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