SC anguished with resorts in elephant corridors

Directed closure of 27 resorts in Nilgiris

Photo for Representation.

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed its anguish over sprouting of resorts in the elephant corridors in Nilgiris and asked is this the way we treat out national heritage.

Taking a stern view, a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Madan B Lokur directed the Tamil Nadu government to seal or close down as many as 27 out of 39 resorts in the elephant corridors in Nilgiris within 48 hours.

"Elephant is the national heritage animal. Is this the way, we should treat our heritage," the bench also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta asked, as a group of lawyers tried to contend that the commercial complexes like resorts were raised after due permission.

Going through the plan of action-taken report by the Nilgiris Collector, the court noted there were 39 such resort complexes with restaurant, including commercial buildings, falling in the elephants corridors.

The court was hearing a 1996 PIL filed by A Rangarajan, wherein directions were issued that no construction would be allowed in the elephant corridors as mentioned in the Elephant Task Force titled as Gajah.

As many a 12 resort owners, represented by senior advocate Salman Khurshid and others, sought time from the court to produce valid documents that granted them approvals.

However, no counsel represented the other 27 resorts.

"There is no one present on behalf of the remaining 27 resorts. It is deemed that they accept the report of the Collector. The report is to the effect that they are running commercial enterprises even though they do not have approval for the same. They are directed to be closed down or sealed by the Collector, " the bench directed, giving 48 hours to district authorities for further action.

With regard to 12 other resorts, the bench granted them 48 hours time to produce all documents showing approval and valid title and possession for running resorts before the Collector.

In case, the Collector finds that the documentation is incomplete or approval not granted, she should close down and seal the premises immediately thereafter, the bench directed.

The elephant corridors in the Nilgiris is comprised of 22.64 km length and 1.5 km breadth.

It is only viable connectivity for about 900 elephants between the Eastern and the Western Ghats.

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SC anguished with resorts in elephant corridors

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