New Delhi: Kaziranga National Park in Assam had been in news off late for all the wrong reasons due to frequent rhino poaching for its horn coupled with killing of other herbivores by the poachers. Besides poaching the other culprit for death of wild animals is National Highway 37 that traverses through the park on which often wild animals come under the wheels of speeding vehicles.

Taking a serious view of this fact the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday asked the Assam government to put barriers, speed cameras and challan negligent drivers and impound their vehicles to streamline traffic on a stretch of this national highway.

A bench comprising NGT chairperson Swatantra Kumar said, “We are sure nothing has been done. There is no regulatory mechanism. We want barriers points to be fixed, speed cameras to be installed by next date of hearing and challans (of vehicles) be done and show how are you (Assam) trying to protect animals from entering the most vulnerable area of the 20.5 km road passing through the national park.”

The bench passed the order after the state government placed before it a proposal to regulate traffic on the stretch while also contending that “The State government is completely insignificant. The Ministry of Environment and Forests can take charge of the issue and consult the Wildlife Board.”

“Fixing barriers, cameras and challaning vehicles doesn’t need a 30-page report,” the bench remarked.

It also said “the suggestions made (by the state) can hardly be considered in the absence of MoEF which is a necessary party.”

The bench warned the MoEF of adverse orders in case of further non-appearance leading to adjournment of cases.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by RTI activist Rohit Choudhury opposing expansion of the NH 37 stretch running through the national park.

During the hearing, the bench asked the state government to show what steps has been taken to address the issue.

When the state said it has put signages on the stretch, the bench remarked, “You want animals to read signages.”

“Show us a single document that you have challaned even one vehicle. We know roads can’t be shut but we don’t have right to kill animals. From photographs before us, it is obvious that vehicles are moving at a very high speed. It is a very valuable wildlife. Why should we shut our eyes to it?” the tribunal observed.

Courtesy: indiLeak

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