The National Green Tribunal has taken strong exception to UP government’s non-compliance of the Supreme Court order directing eviction of residents from colonies of Kalagarh, which lie within the most sensitive core area of the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
The apex court, in December 2013, had directed the UP Irrigation department to vacate residential colonies in Kalagarh and hand it over to Uttarakhand government within six months.
“Despite specific order of the Supreme Court of India which was passed in furtherance to report submitted by the Central Empowered Committee before that court on April 30, 2004, there is practically no progress and there is clear non-compliance to the orders and directions. Such behaviour is not expected from the state administration.
“The conduct of the state authority only exhibits apathy towards compliance to directions. Besides, non-implementation of the orders of Supreme Court of India, it will have adverse impact on the ecology, environment and wildlife in one of the most prestigious park of the country,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The green panel also constituted a committee comprising Director, Tiger Corbett Reserve, senior official from environment ministry, officials from Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and irrigation department of UP and Uttarakhand and directed it to conduct a survey in the area and submit report within two weeks.
It 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 ecosensitive zone beyond the limits of the park.
The committee would also inform the Tribunal about utility of any of the existing structure for development of forest activity.
“The Director of the Corbett Tiger Reserve shall be the Nodal Officer for compliance of this direction. All the authorities in the state administration shall provide due coordination and cooperation to the Committee for compliance of this order,” the bench said.
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 handed over around 9,000 hectares of Corbett National Park to the 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 has now handed this case over to the National Green Tribunal which will now hear the matter on February 8.