GUWAHATI: The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday slammed the Assam government for failure to curb encroachments, and commercial activities on National Highway 37 which passes through the Kaziranga National Park.
“There are large number of ‘dhabas’ and restaurants in the animal corridors. We don’t understand why are you arguing unnecessarily that there are no dhabas. Our expert member has himself seen it. You check the areas and roads through which the animals pass.
“Have you fixed sensor-operated automatic barriers at the animal corridors? You better fix it before next date of hearing or else we will shut down your road. Our intention is that the park and animals should be protected,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The green panel also directed the Director of Kaziranga National Park, MK Yadava, to submit a comprehensive report “dealing with the various aspects including hotels and projects and other commercial activity which are coming up within 10 km of the boundary of the national park” within two weeks.
“In his report, he shall also deal with the issue of stone crushers and other such activities, if any,” the bench said while posting the matter for next hearing on 19 January.
The Tribunal also asked the Assam government to apprise it about steps it has taken with regard to prevention of animal deaths on the roads by vehicular traffic and file comprehensive report on the same.
It had earlier directed the Assam government to clear its stand on eco-sensitive zones and how it has permitted largescale hotel projects to come up in and around Kaziranga National Park, which is home to the famous one-horned rhinos.
The Tribunal’s direction came during a hearing on a plea filed by environmentalist Rohit Choudhury opposing expansion of NH 37 which passes from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat.
The NGT had earlier ordered a ban on roadside shops and eateries along the animal corridors near Kaziranga, among a slew of directions in the wake of increasing wildlife casualties due to vehicular movement on the adjacent highway.
It had also asked the state government to ensure fixing of sensor-operated automatic barriers at the animal corridors and ascertain whether speed-check cameras were in working condition or not.