Chief Justice of India Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on Saturday very rightly appealed to the intellectuals, experts and other stakeholders to come out together with a list of do's and don'ts in daily life for all citizens of the country to enable them to contribute towards protecting and preserving the precious wildlife without physically going to forests. He made this appeal while delivering the valedictory lecture at an orientation programme on protection of wildlife for judicial officers of Assam organized by the Gauhati High Court, Judicial Academy, Assam and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-India. He has also very correctly reflected that while most people know and are concerned about the need to protect and preserve our forests and wildlife, most also do not know how to do it. That is exactly why he underlined the need to come out with a list of do's and don'ts, which, according to him will help save wildlife without going to the forests. It is important to note that Justice Bobde described poaching not just as a threat for wildlife but also a potential danger to human society, because those associated with poaching are also connected with other illegal trades such as narcotics drugs, gun running and other international illegal trades.
It is not known whether local wildlife and conservation experts had informed Chief Justice Bobde that there is a whole range of people in Assam who have been directly or indirectly involved in causing serious harm and threat to wildlife. In Kaziranga, for instance, precious wildlife has been facing problems of survival because of encroachment and mushroom establishment of resorts, restaurants, dhabas, guest houses, hotels, motor-garages and even schools on the fringes of the National Park, with some belonging to powerful and influential people being set up right on its boundary-line. Someone must have informed the CJI that the State government has failed to (or not bothered to) evict or remove such structure despite repeated orders from the courts. Experts participating in the orientation programme must have probably also brought to the notice of the CJI how the Gauhati High Court has been continuously and relentlessly trying to protect the National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Reserved Forests, Wetlands, etc in Assam from encroachers, who in many instances have the blessings of some political parties, and in a few cases also of select intellectuals.
The CJI must have been told about how Deepar Beel, the region's only Ramsar Site, has been rapidly shrinking because successive governments have failed to protect it, and because a number of influential people – politicians, unscrupulous traders and corrupt officers – exercise enough clout to prevent the government from taking a bold step. Had it not been for the intervention of the Gauhati High Court, eviction inside Kaziranga would not have been possible. Had it not been for the Gauhati High Court, Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary would have been wiped out by hordes of land-hungry encroachers, a sizable section of whom are of doubtful citizenship. In the light of the above, the CJI should probably have also called for a list of do's and don'ts for politicians, elected representatives (like MPs and MLAs), business-people, government officers, law-enforcing agencies, alongside one for intellectuals, experts and other stakeholders. After all, intellectuals, experts, other stakeholders and the law-abiding common people cannot do anything until and unless the unscrupulous politicians and corrupt government officers including the police continue to patronize – often openly – encroachment of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Reserved Forests, and Wetlands. The fast disappearing hills in and around Guwahati and North Guwahati are the best and easily available examples to which the Chief Justice of India could have been probably taken for a first-hand idea of the state of affairs in Assam.