Don't transfer Nilgiris Collector without nod: SC

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

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu government not to transfer Collector of the Nilgiris district without permission, as it was apprehended that the officer might have to face the music for sealing allegedly illegal resorts in elephant corridor.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Madan B Lokur agreed to a suggestion made by advocate A D N Rao, appearing for court-appointed Central Empowered Committee, who contended after the act of sealing of over two dozen resorts in elephants corridor, the Collector was likely to suffer the transfer.

"Since the assistance of Collector would be required in deciding the case, the officer shall not be transferred without a leave (permission) from the court," the bench said.

J Innocent Divya, a 2009-batch IAS officer, is the Collector of the Nilgiris district.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for a resort owner, contended the documents in name of the person concerned was found to be genuine in civil court proceedings. 

Senior advocate Salman Khursheed, also representing some of resort owners, submitted their application for commercial use of their establishment must be responded to by the state government.

The court, in the meantime, allowed a plea by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Tamil Nadu government, for permission to file a report on the removal of electrified fencing around the resorts.

Expressing its anguish over sprouting of resorts in the elephant corridors in the Nilgiris, the top court had earlier directed the Tamil Nadu government to seal or close down within 48 hours as many as 27 out of 39 resorts in elephant corridors in Nilgiris.

“Elephant is the national heritage animal. Is this the way, we should treat our heritage,” the court had asked, as a group of lawyers tried to content 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 the commercial buildings falling in the elephant 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'.

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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Don't transfer Nilgiris Collector without nod: SC

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