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Will verify Uttarakhand's claim on road in Rajaji Tiger Reserve: CEC to SC

Will verify Uttarakhand's claim on road in Rajaji Tiger Reserve: CEC to SC

New Delhi, Jul 19 (PTI) The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) told the Supreme Court Friday that it will verify the claims of the Uttarakhand government which said, "not even an inch" of a road passing through a corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves was being widened.The apex court-appointed CEC told a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta that the state government's allowing construction of road in the forest area was violative of the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act.The CEC counsel contended that as per the committee's report, the road falls within the buffer area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve and advice of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was not taken while allowing the construction.Since the whole stretch of the road lies within the forest area of tiger reserve, its construction is in contravention of the guidelines, he said."Let them (state) go before the CEC and let NTCA and other parties be heard and asked to file a report," the lawyer said.The counsel appearing for the state claimed that not even an inch of the road was being widened there.The CEC's counsel said they would verify the claims of the state and file a report.The court has posted the matter for further hearing on July 29.On June 21, the apex court had stayed the construction of the road noting that there were "numerous" violations of the Forest Conservation Act. It had also sought response of the state government on a plea filed by a wildlife activist who has sought stay on the construction of roads, bridges and culverts on the Laldhang Chillarkhal Road passing through corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger Reserves.The court had passed the order after perusing a report filed by the CEC which said that the road traverses a corridor between Rajaji and Corbett Tiger reserves. According to the report, the road is being constructed without statutory approval of National Board for Wildlife and in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the Forest Conservation Act.The plea has sought fixing of responsibility on officers who have allowed illegal construction works on the Laldhang-Chillarkhal Forest road claiming that it is clear violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Conservation Act.It has also sought dismantling of all illegal structures including roads, bridges, culverts raised without requisite approvals. The plea has also sought a direction to the Uttarakhand government and others to pay exemplary ecological costs for destroying the critical corridor connecting Rajaji Tiger Reserve with Corbett Tiger Reserve. Earlier, the National Green Tribunal had constituted a committee, drawing representatives from various departments including wildlife, to provide it a factual report on alleged illegal construction of a road for use by commercial vehicles in the ecologically sensitive Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The tribunal's direction had come on a petition which alleged that the road is being built in the tiger reserve without statutory clearances and requisite safeguards. PTI ABA MNL SA