SC directs Uttarakhand to stop construction in tiger reserves

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttarakhand government to withdraw the order for construction of a road in a critical corridor connecting the Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves.

The directive by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta came after the Uttarakhand government counsel said the state would approach the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for seeking approvals for the construction of the road.

The court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had informed the vacation bench in June that the ongoing road construction does not follow the statutory approval from the National Board for Wildlife and the National Tiger Conservative Authority.

The CEC sought the court's direction to "dismantle structures including roads, bridges and culverts raised without seeking requisite statutory approvals and in violation of the apex court order of December 12, 1996."

These structures are apparently located along the Laldhang-Chillarkhal forest road in the reserve forest forming part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

Advocate A.D.N. Rao, representing CEC, contended that the impact of the construction on the critical corridor would be irreversible as it would adversely affect the habitat and wildlife of the ecologically-sensitive area.

The CEC said the proposed road fell within the buffer area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve and it also passes through the elephant reserve. Rohit Choudhury, a Delhi resident, moved an application before the CEC seeking its urgent attention as the road was under construction in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Forest(Conservation) Act, 1980 and the apex court's orders of December 12, 1996.

--IANS

ak/kr

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