New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Uttarakhand government for not demolishing illegal structures inside Kalagarh, the most sensitive core area of the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, saying it was trying to "frustrate" its directions.
Rehabilitation Of Kalagarh Residents: NGT Raps U'khand Govt, Slaps Fine Of Rs 3 Lakh
A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim slapped a penalty of Rs 3 lakh on the state government for not filing an affidavit on demolition and asked it to file the document within a week.
The green panel said that it had ordered demolition of the illegal structures inside Kalagarh. However, the state government was trying to delay compliance on the pretext that land for rehabilitation was not available.
"From the narration of the facts as stated, the intention of State appears not honest. The order has not been complied on one pretext or the other and now the ground created is about want of land for rehabilitation before the demolition could take place. In the circumstances, we are justified in concluding that unless a serious view is taken, the State will again frustrate the directions of the Tribunal," the bench said.
The state government on September 21 last year had assured the tribunal that inhabitants would be removed and structures would be demolished as expeditiously as possible from the Jim Corbett National Park and in any case not more than one year. It had also said that the Deputy Commissioner of the area would file status-cum compliance report, every three months before the tribunal, to show progress in compliance of directions.
However, no status report has been filed despite assurance.
While permitting the state to file the affidavit, the tribunal said, "Be that as it may, even though we may permit filing of undertaking to give a timeline no further indulgence will be shown. Hence for defaults committed, the State of Uttarakhand is directed to pay compensation of Rs 3 lakhs for default committed within a period of one week from now. Affidavit be also filed within one week subject to deposit of cost". The NGT had earlier also criticised the Uttar Pradesh government, whose irrigation department has a residential colony in Kalagarh constructed before Uttarakhand was carved out of the state, for non-compliance of Supreme Court order directing eviction of residents from these colonies.
The apex court, in December 2013, had directed the UP irrigation department to vacate residential colonies and hand them over to Uttarakhand government within six months. The green panel had also constituted a committee comprising Director of the tiger reserve, senior officials of the environment ministry, UP pollution control board and irrigation departments of UP and Uttarakhand. It had asked the panel to conduct a survey in the area and submit a report.
It had asked the committee to indicate in its report the number of existing structures in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Kalagarh, status of these structures and the area which is to be marked as eco-sensitive zone beyond the limits of the park.
In its December 2013 judgement, the Supreme Court had upheld the 2004 report of its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to return the encroached New Kalagarh irrigation colony to the Corbett Tiger Reserve and set a six-month deadline for the state government to ensure compliance.
In August 1966, the Forest Department of undivided Uttar Pradesh had handed over around 9,000 hectares of Corbett National Park land to the state Irrigation Department for the Ramganga hydel project.
The houses were built for people at the site during the construction of the Ram Ganga Dam also known as the Kalagarh Dam, which was completed in 1974.
The Supreme Court had handed this case over to the National Green Tribunal last year. PTI