More than a month since the Gujarat High Court asked the state government to respond to an application opposing the installation of a broad-gauge line and electrification of tracks in a stretch passing through the Gir forest, the latter remains to file its reply in the matter.
The high court had issued notices to state and railways authorities in the matter on December 8 last year and sought a response by December 22 last year. The state, however, sought more time when the matter was listed on the returnable date.
On Monday, while mentioning the matter before a division bench headed by the Chief Justice of Gujarat HC Vikram Nath, amicus curiae Hemang Shah pressed that “despite two orders of the court, the state has not yet filed a reply”.
In its order, the bench noted: “…No reply has been filed by the state and the number of deaths in Gir forest is increasing day by day.” The matter is now expected to be heard on January 27.
Shah, who has been representing the high court in an existing suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) of 2018 on the preservation of the Gir sanctuary’s ecosystem for the Asiatic lions, filed the fresh application, also opposing the state government’s decision to install gas and oil pipelines as these may lead to gas leakage and forest fires.
The amicus curiae, in the application, had questioned the State Wildlife Board’s decision to transfer 150 hectares of land in Gir forest to the railways for installation of a broad-gauge line and electrification of tracks, highlighting that development cannot come at the cost of an endangered species, such as the Asiatic lion.
In another PIL before the Gujarat HC seeking a revised detailed policy for protection of wildlife at Gir, a notice was issued to the state in September 2020. The state is yet to file a response in the matter.
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