Assam activist cites illegal construction in Kaziranga corridor

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An environmental activist in Assam has written to the government alleging construction in the private land inside the animal corridors near Assam’s Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in violation of a Supreme Court order.

In a letter to Assam chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna on Saturday, activist Rohit Choudhury claimed a building and a concrete approach road were being built in Kanchanjuri animal corridor next to National Highway 37 in Kaliabor circle of Nagaon district.

“It is apparent the district administrations of Nagaon, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and KNP authorities have turned a blind eye to rampant construction activities in blatant violation of SC order,” the letter said.

On April 12 last year, acting on an application by Choudhury, the SC had “restrained” all kind of mining and related activities along the southern boundary of KNP and in the entire catchment area of rivers/streams and rivulets originating in Karbi Anglong hill ranges and flowing into the park.

“No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the nine identified animal corridors,” the order further stated.

Spread over 430 sq km, KNP is home to over 2,400 one-horned rhinos and around 121 tigers.

The animal corridors located in and around the park along NH-37 are used by elephants, rhinos and other animals to search for food and also seek safety in the hills of Karbi Anglong when floods submerge the park every monsoon.

In his letter, Choudhury urged the chief secretary to stop the illegal construction activity in the Kanchanjuri animal corridor and get it demolished. It also sought action against forest, civil and police administration officials for failing to enforce the SC order.

“Fresh construction has taken place on private land falling in the Kanchanjuri animal corridor. Despite the SC order and our efforts to enforce it, people residing in these corridors are not willing to obey,” P Sivakumar, director of the park said.

“This particular corridor is not under control of forest administration as it is revenue land. Last year too, such violations took place and some constructions were removed. We have informed civil administration about the recent violation and they will be removed soon,” he added.

Dyotiva Bora, circle officer of Kaliabor, where Kanchanjuri animal corridor is located, said she is not aware of any such construction or has received any complaint regarding it.

“We are busy in handling the Covid-19 pandemic and I am not aware of it. I have been posted very recently to Kaliabor. If there’s any violation of SC order, we will look into it and take necessary action,” she said.

Mrinmoy Das, sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Kaliabor, said they are aware of Choudhury’s letter and would soon get in touch with civil and forest administration and help in demolishing the construction.

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