NGT orders NRL to demolish wall that obstructs elephants’ movement

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the state owned Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in Assam’s Golaghat district to demolish the wall with barbed wire fencing which “comes in the way of elephant corridor.”

Earlier, NGT had ordered the NRL and Golaghat district administration to demolish the wall which was built in an area identified as ‘elephant corridor’. Later, NRL had filed a review petition at the NGT. The NRL review petition had claimed the portion of the wall as its land.

Chairperson of NGT, Justice AK Goel while dismissing the review petition of NRL ordered the state owned refinery to execute the order as early as possible.

NRL had constructed the wall to create a golf course for its officials by extending its existing township into the No Development Zone (NDZ) of the Deopahar forests, adjoining Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

The Deopahar forest connects the KNP to the Karbi Anglong hills and has been a traditional animal movement route in that region. The NDZ was demarcated through a notification issued in 1996 by the environment ministry, stating that no development would be allowed within a 15-km radius of the refinery, owned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

On March 13, the Golaghat district administration, together with the district forest department, demolished a part of that controversial boundary wall. According to some media reports, it was carried out by the authorities following an order passed by the NGT in August 24, 2016.

In 2016 again , NGT had also directed the Assam government to “urgently take steps as per law to finally notify Deophahar ‘PRF’ (Proposed Reserved Forest) into a Reserved Forest under Section 17 of the Assam Forest Regulation Act 1891, to prevent further loss to the ecology of Deopahar, which is in close proximity to KNP and is also used as an elephant corridor.”

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