New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that development is more important than conservation of tigers, though it added that the latter is also of prime importance.
Hearing a plea by an NGO opposing widening of a stretch of National Highway 7 between Nagpur and Jabalpur, the court said on Wednesday that the conservation of tigers could not be done at the cost of development of the country, reported the Times of India on Thursday.
NH-7 passes through the Pench tiger reserve.
The court said it was important to allow seamless movement of human beings from one place to another.
The issue reached the doors of the Supreme Court after a tug of war between the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Both had passed parallely different orders in the case.
The apex court yesterday ruled that the HC would have jurisdiction over the road widening issue.
While critical of the NGO, the bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi said, "Tigers are important. But what happens to the movement of traffic? It is not the first time that a national highway is passing through a reserved forest. We are for protecting tigers. Tell us what are the mitigating factors that could be implemented by the project proponent so that tiger migration routes are not impeded."
"Have you all filed any PIL against poaching? Why don't you go and work with those people working at the ground level to protect tigers from poachers? You jump to litigation whenever there is a development project. File a PIL on how to prevent poaching. Real danger to tiger is not from road traffic but poachers," the bench added, as per the daily.