Despite the Supreme Court ordering a refinery in Assam to tear down a concrete wall near Kaziranga National Park in January this year, it continues to stand and block the movement of wild elephant along an important wildlife corridor in the state.
The 2.2-kilometre boundary wall was built in 2011 to allow state-run fossil fuel facility, Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), to expand its operations into the Deopahar Reserve.
NRL was taken to court by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in August 2018, when the NRL refused. The Tribunal's been trying to have the wall demolished since 2016.
The refinery was compelled to take down a 289-metre stretch of the wall in March 2018 to free up the passage for elephants to move between Kaziranga and Deopahar, a path that the wall obstructs.
In their view, demolishing the entire wall was unnecessary.
By striking down the appeal made by the NRL to maintain the wall, SC judges said that "Elephants have first right on the forest," according to LiveLaw. "Elephants do not go to office in a designated route. We cannot encroach upon the elephant’s area."
After the Supreme Court order, a divisional forest officer Jayashree Naiding reportedly wrote a letter to the refinery, to which a general manager at NRL responded saying that a case regarding the area of land the wall stands on is still ongoing in the Guwahati High Court, according to a report in the Wire.
But as Naiding is quoted as saying, all previous and pending appeals regarding the wall were waived as part of the SC order passed on 18 January. She added the matter was now in the district commissioner – Dhiren Hazarika's hands.
Hazarika also dashed off a letter to the NRL, telling them to comply with the order, and that he was still new to the place and unfamiliar with the case, according to an NE Now report.
But with what little he knew, Hazarika reportedly called out NRL for concealing their stay order in the list of pending cases presented to the Supreme Court during the appeal proceedings.
Now, a month after the SC order was passed, the matter has now been escalated to the local administration and Supreme Court registrar. The most recent warning to the NRL comes as the last word on the matter, "In case no action is taken urgently to demolish the said boundary wall, then the undersigned will be constrained to take legal recourse as mandated by law against the Chief Secretary [and other officers of the district administration]."
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Updated Date: Mar 06, 2019 18:55:20 IST