National Geen Tribunal (Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: National Green Tribunal on Monday slapped fines on Uttarakhand government and its agencies for not filing their responses on a plea highlighting human wildlife conflict and seeking rehabilitation of villagers living inside Rajaji National Park in the state.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed the state authorities for not filing their replies and slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 each on Uttarakhand government, state forest deparment and rural development ministry, Chief Conservator of forest and SSP of Pauri Garhwal district.
The NGT passed the order noting that on the last date of hearing, the state government had sought a week's time for filing the reply but have failed to do so till date.
The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Uttarakhand resident Madan Singh Bisht seeking setting up of a monitoring committee to look into the issue of rehabilitation of the revenue village 'chaks' (estates) which lie within the boundaries of the Rajaji National Park, known for tigers, panthers, elephants and other animals.
Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for Bisht, said the delay in filing responses by state authorities showed their callous approach in such a serious matter where rehabilitation of a large number of people is involved.
The plea had contended that in 1983, MoEF and Uttarakhand government had issued a notification and formed the Rajaji national park. However, there was no mention of revenue estates falling within the park.
The villagers then raised objections, following which some committees were constituted and after a few meetings, few resolutions were adopted on taking necessary steps to exclude revenue chaks from the Rajaji National Park.
However till date, the authorities have not taken any decision regarding exclusion of the revenue chaks from the national park, the plea had said.
Bisht had claimed that besides non-development of the areas which fall within the national park, the villages were facing many difficulties as there was always a looming threat to life from wild animals.
"The Chief Conservator Forest wrote a letter to Satpal Maharaj, (then a) Member of Parliament from the region, about increase in human-wildlife clashes and said that rehabilitation was the only option available," the plea said.
It sought the exclusion of all revenue village 'chaks' (estates) from the boundaries of the Rajaji National Park and provision of basic facilities to these chaks which are not excluded from boundaries of the National Park.