The Assam government has decided to establish nine elephant corridors in the state's eastern region, one and a half months after 18 wild elephants died in Nagaon district after being struck by a "massive lightning bolt," authorities said on Thursday.
According to an official, it was resolved at a high-level conference attended by three ministers and several top administrators to construct nine elephant routes for Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR).
The meeting, held on Wednesday at Janata Bhavan, the civil secretariat of the Assam government in Dispur, resolved to form a team to conduct on-the-spot verification of the areas for delineation of nine wildlife corridors in the UNESCO world heritage site — KNP & TR.
"The committee after making assessment will place its interim report after 15 days and the final report within another fortnight. The meeting discussed threadbare about the proposed nine identified elephant corridors as well as creation of eco sensitive zones in KNP & TR to provide safe passage to the pachyderms and to ward off man-elephant conflicts. The new additional areas of the park together with reserved forests will come under a single integrated entity," the official said.
Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Minister Atul Bora, Health and Family Welfare Minister Keshab Mahanta, Commissioner and Secretary, Environment and Forest Gyanendra Dev Tripathi, PCCF (Wildlife) Amit Sahai, and Chief Wildlife Warden M.K. Yadava were all present at the meeting.
According to an official statement, the Supreme Court, in April 2019, acting on an application by animal activist Rohit Choudhury, "restrained" all mining activities along the southern boundary of KNP & TR, as well as in the entire river basin, streams, and river tendrils originating in the Karbi Anglong hill ranges and flowing into the park.
"No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the nine identified animal corridors," the Supreme Court declared in its decision. The Environment and Forest department, according to the statement, has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court on the nine designated elephant corridors with geo coordinates.
The Supreme Court had directed the agency to notify the public about the selected routes. At least 18 wild elephants, including calves, were killed by a "massive lightning bolt" on May 12 night in the hilly Kandali Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) in Nagaon district of central Assam.
M.K. Yadava, Chief Wildlife Warden, stated that such incidents of lightning striking animals are common, and that five elephants perished as a result of this in West Bengal lately, but the May 12 incident in Nagaon is massive, frightening, and awful.