GUWAHATI: The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), set up by the Supreme Court, has asked the Assam government to take immediate action to remove illegal constructions undertaken in nine identified wildlife corridors of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
An Assam Forest Department official said that the CEC's Member-Secretary Amarnatha Shetty, in a letter to Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah, asked for an action taken report within four weeks.
"It is requested that immediate action be taken to remove all constructions made in violation of the Supreme Court order of April 12, 2019, and not to permit any new constructions along the nine identified animal corridors," the letter said.
The CEC has also referred to the inspection report submitted on September 10 by Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry's Integrated Regional Office, Guwahati, head Hemen Hazarika, which enclosed the report of Deputy Inspector General of Forest (Central) Lactitia J. Syiemiong, on "Violation of the Supreme Court order of April 12, 2019".
The official said that the Supreme Court earlier barred new construction on private lands that form part of the nine identified animal corridors of Kaziranga, which is home to more than 2,400 one-horned Indian rhinos.
The apex court had also disallowed all kinds of mining on these animal corridors.
Accompanied by Kaziranga Director, Karmashree P. Sivakumar, Syiemiong had studied the construction activities on eight of the nine corridors in August.
The CEC letter said that inspection was done at the field level after traversing the entire eight of the nine stretches of the animal corridors, where it was found that there has been illegal construction all along.
"Apart from illegal constructions, the greatest eye-sore and also a threat to the animals of KNP & TR is the presence of trucks, etc. In the recent past, it has been observed that trucks, tankers and other vehicles are stopping to park in roadsides from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat and creating unnecessary hindrance to wild animal movement from the national park to Karbi Anglong Hillside. Because of this, the number of hotels and dhabas are increasing day by day and during checking, it found that these dhabas are chopping firewood from the trees of Karbi-Anglong Hillside illegally," the letter said.
It also said that there were more than 500 trucks and vehicles, during the inspection, that was utilizing water from streams and rivers and rivulets originating from Karbi-Anglong Hill ranges for bathing by drivers and handymen and washing of vehicles, polluting the water flowing into the Kaziranga National Park.
"Oil and grease from automobiles garages, wastewater from vehicle washing stations, sewage water coming from dhabas and hotels is entering into the Duffalo River which is the lifeline of Kaziranga. Dumping of garbage on the animal corridors and noise pollution due to the movement of vehicles is deteriorating the environment of the park. As per the Central Empowerment Committee's 2019 report submitted to the Supreme Court, parking of all types of vehicles on the nine animal corridor areas of NH-37 of Kaziranga National Park is strictly prohibited," the letter said.
It also said that in the Haldhibari Corridor in the Golaghat district, there is a temple and adjoining shops have sprouted and a private hotel is running.
"A government property belonging to Karbi-Anglong District Council has also been constructed in violation of Supreme Court order. There was a particular house near an old tea garden that was newly constructed after 2019. Also, the earth seems to have been dug by an excavator to increase the tea garden area. It was informed that this place was owned by a Minister. A little ahead a new restaurant was also being constructed," the CEC letter said. (IANS)