Concerned over wildlife deaths in road accidents at the Kaziranga National Park, the National Green Tribunal has asked Assam government to provide the exact number of animal casualties so far due to traffic movement on the National Highway-37 that passes through the home of the famous one-horned rhinos.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the Sarbananda Sonowal-government to apprise it of the progress made in installation of sensor-operated automated traffic barriers to prevent these deaths. It directed the state government and the Director of the Kaziranga National Park to inform it on “how how many animals have died because of vehicular movement along the highway.”
“The counsel appearing for State shall produce original records before us to show what steps in terms of the previous orders of the tribunal have been taken for installation of sensor barriers for preventing animal conflict…They will also show how many vehicles with interceptor speed sensors have been installed and deployed mainly in Kaziranga National Park and how many challans were effected from the date of directions till today. Let all information with original record be placed before the Tribunal on September 30,” the bench said.
On the issue of detailed project report (DPR) on measures to curb growing wildlife deaths, the NGT said the document should be prepared in consultation with Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. The tribunal’s direction came during a hearing on a plea filed by environmentalist Rohit Choudhury opposing the expansion of NH-37 which passes from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat through the Kaziranga Park. On the last date of hearing, Road Transport and Highways Ministry had told the bench that DPR prepared by the state government had been approved.
The NGT had ordered demolition of 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. Gauhati High Court, however, had stayed the order on demolishing shops and dhabas located within 100 metres of National Highway 37.
The green panel had also asked the Assam government to ensure fixation of sensor-operated automatic barriers at the animal corridors and ascertain whether speed-check cameras were in working condition or not. The tribunal had earlier directed the Assam government to expeditiously prepare the DPR and summoned its top officials to inform it about compliance of its earlier orders on the issue. It had also directed the Union Ministry to take clear instructions as to whether or not it proposed to issue any draft notification in regard to Kaziranga Eco Sensitive Zone.