NH expansion through Kaziranga opposed, govt response sought
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought the Centre and the Assam government`s responses on a plea opposing expansion of the National Highway 37 stretch running through Kaziranga National Park on the ground that it would lead to death of wild animals due to road accidents.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued notice to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Pollution Control Board and Forest Department of Assam, on the plea which also alleged violation of environmental clearance (EC) granted to Numaligarh Refinery Limited.
"Issue notice to non-applicants in the main application. Returnable on September 5, 2013," the bench said.
The EC was granted subject to strict compliance of various conditions, one of which related to denotification of the stretch of NH-37 passing through the park and diversion of the highway away from the wildlife sanctuary, petitioner Rohit Choudhury said.
The petition, filed through advocate Ritwick Dutta, has opposed widening of that portion of the highway which is passing through the sanctuary saying "continued unregulated use of NH 37 is resulting in death of wild animals and reptiles in large numbers in road accidents" and its expansion will further aggravate the situation.
"It is submitted that if immediate measures are not taken then operation of road will continue to do the damage which cannot be compensated in any terms," the petition said.
Choudhury submitted that a large number of wild animals are being killed and injured in road accidents when they move towards the Mikir Hills adjoining the park to seek refuge from the annual floods.
The petition said the condition, for diversion of NH 37 and the subsequent denotification of the highway, was incorporated in the EC by taking into account the fact that increased traffic movement and congestion will take place in the area due to setting up of the Numaligarh refinery.
Choudhury also sought action against the agency concerned including government officials for willful non-compliance of the EC condition.
He further sought a stay on ancillary infrastructure like hotels, eateries, coming up on the NH 37 portion passing through the sanctuary as well as regulating traffic on the highway to prevent "road kill" of animals.
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