“No expansion of NRL Township in elephant corridor”: SC

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The Supreme Court of India on Friday has dismissed an appeal filed by Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL). In its hearing, the apex court has ordered to demolish the entire 2.2 KMs boundary wall blocking the elephant corridor in Deopahar Reserve Forest in Golaghat.

Court said that “Elephants have first right on forest”.

The wall became the centre of controversy in 2015. In May that year, a 7-year-old male elephant that had reportedly died of “severe haemorrhage” from violently thrusting against the wall. The same year, environmentalists captured videos showing elephants trying to cross the high boundary wall.

This was followed by environmental activists have been urging to demolish of the wall built by the oil refinery. Environmentalists claimed that the wall and the NRL Township are being built illegally in a “No Development Zone” declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) in 1996.

In August 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered NRL to demolish the entire length of the wall within a month. But only a 289-metre stretch was demolished.

As per reports, the NRL challenged the NGT order, saying the entire wall need not be demolished as it is not a part of Deopahar Reserve Forest in Golaghat.

Gauhati High Court has stayed any further demolition of the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) boundary wall as ordered by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last month.

The NRL said it has also paid Rs 25 lakh to the State Forest Department, which will be kept in a separate bank account for restoration of the area and for the improvement of the surroundings adjoining the NRL complex and to reduce man-animal conflict, especially when it comes to man-elephant tussle.

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