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Alan Gray is the Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze, and writes and edits stories at NewsBlaze USA, NewsBlaze India and NewsBlaze Australia.

Diphu March 19:   Constructions like marriage halls, restaurants and a government guest house inside Kaziranga National Park have blocked a number of animal corridors, a declared UNESCO heritage location, in blatant violation of the Supreme Court’s order given three years back.

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger reserve authority which instead of evicting the illegal constructions have chosen to seek intervention of Assam government with a suggestion that the district administration which shares the geographical area of this park better evict the illegal constructions from inside the park and its fringe areas.

The authority has claimed that they have uninvolved some parking areas but have expressed their inability to remove the resorts and restaurants. Field director of the park P Sivakumar has informed Principal Conservator of Forests (wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam M K Yadava last month about the actual situation of the nine  well-known corridors where violation of courts order of 12.4.19 have taken place.

The Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court had asked the Chief Secretary of Assam to take action against the encroachments in October last year. Next month, the state government had sought three months’ time to remove the structures from Panbari, Haldibari, Bagori, Harmuty, Kanchanjuri, Hatidandi, Deosur, Chirang and Amguri corridors which are extended inside Nagaon, Golaghat and Karbi Anglong district.

The Committee sought the cooperation of the concerned Deputy Commissioners of the district through the Chief Secretary of Assam for proper eviction of the illegal structures and compels other restrictions like deforestation and stop earth cutting.

The letter of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger reserve authority has clearly mentioned that under Nagaon forest division nine resorts, hotels have not been removed. Under the Karbi Anglong East division, a marriage hall, two residential buildings and a government guest house still occupies park area; in addition a new building has been constructed opposite Mihimiri hill under Karbi Anglong East. Reserve forest area controlled by Eastern Assam Wildlife Division of Golaghat, a wine shop and a boundary wall have not been removed by Golaghat district administration.

The encroached animal corridors are the natural passageway of the animals of the marshy Kaziranga area to escape to the highlands of Karbi Anglong hills during the flood. The Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong setting comprises two elephant reserves; the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong elephant reserve spread over 8,270 square kilometers and the Dhansiri-Lumding Elephant Reserve comprising 2,740 sq km.

Meanwhile both Assam government and the Forest department have been pulled up by the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee for failing to make the nine animal corridors of Kaziranga National Park free from encroachers.

A meeting was recently held between the Committee and top officials of Assam Government on the issue of encroachment and violation of courts order of April 12, 2019. The meeting has decided to seek Forest Survey of India, Dehradun, to provide satellite imageries of the pertinent period’s to identify particulars of changes that have taken place along the identified nine corridors, following the Supreme Court order.

The Chief Secretary of Assam will submit a detailed report on activities which have taken place in each corridor in violation of the apex court’s order and present the names and designations of officers who granted permission for the construction in animal corridors and copies of licenses and permissions given by the officers.

The Chief Secretary will also give the names of the officers accountable for the enforcement of provisions of the eco-sensitive zone given that National Highway-37 is within the 10-km expanse of the boundaries of the Kaziranga National Park.