The movement of animals across the National Highway (NH-37) that runs across the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), a World Heritage Site in Assam, is seriously impeded by unauthorized shops and dhabas that have come up on either side of the road. Animal movement corridors have either been blocked due to this or the animals are scared by human presence and activity.
Taking this into account, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal has said that all such shops and dhabas located within 100 metres of the road or in the forest or reserved and protected areas and bridges constructed within 500 metres of the KNP will have to be demolished. It issued showcause notices to all concerned for their replies.
The vicinity around Kaziranga National Park has become a holiday makerâs paradise with many resorts lining up the highway. This results in an inflow of tourists who are in no way concerned about the wildlife or the park. In fact, most even dispense with the mandatory visit to the Park. They just come, enjoy themselves, litter the place and go away, unconcerned about the devastation their visit will cause to the ecology of the area or the effect it will have on the natural habitat of the animals. Marriages held in these resorts are the worst offenders in this regard.
The Supreme Court has recently said in a different judgment that it cannot stop construction of highways across animal reserves as development is as important as protection of animals. This is a very sane view. But the SC should also ask the government to be vigilant against unauthorized construction along these highways as they pass through the forests, as that is definitely not a part of development but commerce at its worst.