Protect Kaziranga animals from NH traffic: NGT to Assam

The National Green Tribunal has asked the Assam government to hold a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Petroleum Ministry to find out ways to protect animals of Kaziranga National Park from traffic on the National Highway stretch that comprises its southern boundary, and set a deadline of December 10 to come up with the ideas.

The four-member principal bench of the NGT headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar in its order issued in New Delhi on Tuesday also asked the Assam government to state whether underpasses or fly-overs could be built on the 18-km stretch of the National Highway that stands on as many as four animal corridors in order to facilitate free and safe movement of wild animals, as also about steps to check speed of vehicles in that stretch.

The orders came as part of the on-going case filed by Rohit Choudhary, who had pleaded for ensuring compliance of an environmental clearance of the MoEF way back in 1991 in which it had also called for diverting NH-37 or creating an alternative highway currently passing through Kaziranga.

Interestingly, that MoEF order had largely remained uncomplied with by various agencies including the Assam government and the public sector Numaligarh Refinery that has come up close to Kaziranga, leading to high rate of animal deaths on the highway as well as other environmental problems.

The Assam government, which had earlier submitted a list of a series of measures to reduce traffic on the highway, had also referred to constructing underpasses and fly-overs in portions of the highway stretch that currently obstructs at least four natural animal corridors.

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