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Illegal construction in Corbett Tiger Reserve: Uttarakhand HC takes suo motu cognizance, issues notice to Centre, state government

A news report in a newspaper, dated 23.10.2021, said illegal construction activities were being undertaken by unknown persons in clear violation of forest laws. The said illegal construction are being undertaken in the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

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The Uttarakhand High Court has recently taken suo motu cognizance and issued notice to the Central and state government in the matter of illegal construction activities in the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

A news report in a newspaper, dated 23.10.2021, said illegal construction activities were being undertaken by unknown persons in clear violation of forest laws. The said illegal construction are being undertaken in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, one of the premier tiger reserves of the country.

According to the said article, a Committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had recently visited the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Committee discovered not only illegal construction of bridges and buildings, but even the felling of trees. The Committee further noted that there has been violation of the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, as well as the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice  Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Narayan Singh Dhanik observed that, surprisingly, a single-lane road is being constructed in the core/critical habitat of the reserve. Despite the fact that the Committee has recommended that all illegal constructions in Morghatti and Pakhrau FRH campuses be demolished, and eco-restoration work be undertaken with immediate effect, no concrete steps have been taken by the respondents.

Moreover, despite the fact that the Committee recommended that the Ministry of Environment should initiate action against the responsible officers, as per the provisions contained in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, not even initial steps have been taken even by the Ministry. Therefore, the Court issued notices to the respondents.

Meanwhile, the Court directed  the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (General), Uttarakhand, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Uttarakhand, and the Director of the Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand, to inspect the site, and to submit a report with regard to the nature and extent of illegal construction being carried out, with regard to the persons, who are responsible for carrying out the construction, and with regard to the concrete steps taken by the respondents against such persons, and against the illegal construction.

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