HC questions state over tiger conservation


The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday pulled up the state government for inadequate efforts towards tiger conservation and asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to suggest within three months measures to save their population.

The NTCA may take over the management of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, as an interim measure, till the state government becomes alive to its duties and starts taking concrete decisions, a Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lokpal Singh said while hearing a PIL on the conservation of tigers and other wildlife.

The court said the state government had “not shown its keen interest to protect the wildlife, including tigers, elephants, birds and 600 bird species”.

“The state government is the protector and not the destroyer of the rights of ordinary citizens. It is better to have no law than laws not enforced,” a miffed court said asking the NCTA to step in to take charge of the management of the Corbett Tiger Reserve as an interim measure.

The Bench also expressed unhappiness over the delay in constituting a special tiger protection force as ordered by the court, saying the state government had been only buying time under one pretext or the other.

“We have ordered the state government to constitute a special tiger protection force. However, we have not been told what concrete steps have been taken to constitute it except buying time from the court on one pretext or the other,” the court said.

Observing that tiger population is confined to the forest patches alongside multiple-use forest, agricultural land and human habitations, the court said it might lead to an increase in human-tiger conflict in the future. In order to protect the tigers and the wildlife, the HC directed the NCTA to suggest within three months steps to be taken to conserve and preserve the tiger population in the core areas and buffer zones. The NCTA may suggest whether few tigers can be relocated, to save them from poaching, to other well-managed national parks.

The NCTA might take over the management of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, as an interim measure, till the state government became alive to its duties and started taking concrete decisions, the court said.
The DFO concerned should only be the competent authority to grant permission to cut trees if required in the close vicinity of the reserve and national parks, it said.

The Bench directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest to relocate the rescued elephants either to Kalagarh or Dhikala in batches within three days from Thursday. Previously, the court had ordered the DFO to rescue all elephants being kept illegally in resorts.

The state government was directed to protect the rescued elephants by implementing the provisions of the Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals Rules 2017, the court said. The Additional Chief Secretary to Uttarakhand was directed to file a comprehensive status report on August 30 when the Additional Chief Secretary should remain present, it said. — PTI


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