Guwahati- The Division Bench of Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice P.K. Saikia of the Gauhati High Court issues direction to the Deputy Commissioners of Golaghat, Sonitpur and Nagaon to take expeditious steps to evict the inhabitants in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th & as well as 6th Additions of the Kaziranga National Park, including Deurchur Chang, Banderdubi and Palkhowa villages, within one month.
The Division Bench observed that “the individual claims for a handful of persons is in conflict with the public and national interest. There have been persistent and repeated reporting of poaching of rhinoceros, elephants and other wild animals. It is irresistible inference that the habitants in KNP area would fall in suspect group and they would be well-acquainted with the areas and animal movements, therefore they would alone be in a position to do poaching successfully or abet poaching by others. The concept of national park in the Wild Life Act contemplates that there should be no human habitation.”
In a separate order passed in Review Petition (No. 82/2015) the Court directed that 1300 posts of front line staff of KNP shall be created within 3 months and the State Government shall send man on deputation to see that the manpower resource does not fall inadequate for watch and ward and protection of wild life in KNP.
The Court further held in the PIL that the inhabitants who have approached the Court have no right over the land and their claims have been executed. There is also provision under the Land Acquisition Act that in urgent situation the possession of land is taken and later on adjudication of compensation procedures are followed. In that view of the matter even if final notification is not issued, the inhabitants cannot claim right to stay in the land by taking a technical view as it would only endanger the wild life in KNP and there would be unabated act of poaching. Hence, keeping in view of the interest of KNP, which is a World Heritage Site, the Court did not accept the contentions of the inhabitants claiming right of occupation or possession in the areas of KNP.
Expressing concern, various news items were published about illegal poaching of Rhinoceros and other wild animals in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). To enquire into the news report, the High Court suo motu registered a PIL (No.66 /2012). Another PIL was filed by one Mrinal Saikia on the same subject matter with an additional relief of removal of human habitation and encroachment in the animal corridors in and around KNP.
On 04.03.2014, the Court directed the Director of KNP to submit a detailed report about the geographical features, flora and fauna, animal life and contributory reasons which is aiding poaching and illegal activities and also to give long term solutions to remedy the ills affecting the park. Mr. M.K. Yadav, Director of KNP, submitted a detailed report in a book form containing 402 pages.
On 02.06.2015, in presence of the Members of the High Power Committee (HPC) the Court directed the Members to do the counting of residences in the KNP area, which would include the 1st Addition to 6th Addition, and also to survey the population of the residential buildings, huts, etc. The Committee was also directed to take biometrics of the people residing in the area.
The HPC said that the entire area of KNP including 1st to 6th Addition measures 884.44 sq. metres and possession of the land in the 2nd Addition has also been handed over to KNP, but there are some encroachments. With regard to the 3rd, 5th & 6th Additions, preliminary notification and enquiries required under law are held but no final notification is issued.