Hydel in jumbo habitats: SC notice to state, Centre

Possible degradation and progressive loss of habitat due to illegal felling of trees were found to be the major threat to elephant conservation. dh file photo

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and the Karnataka government on a plea for issuance of specific guidelines for conservation of elephants and other wildlife and prevent human-elephant conflict in the state, particularly in Hassan–Kodagu forest area and Mysore.

The petitioner sought a direction to remove mini-hydel projects operating in the wildlife sanctuary as per the report of the elephant task force.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai sought a response from the Centre and the Karnataka's chief secretary and principal chief conservator of forests on a writ petition filed by Ramanagar-based 'Nagarika Hakku Horata Samiti'. It tagged the instant petition with a pending matter on elephant protection. 

The petitioner, represented by advocate C M Angadi, sought a direction to implement the elephant task force report, to save the wildlife sanctuary or wildlife animals by protecting the environment.

Shocked by the report on death of about 25 elephants in the last six months, the petitioner contended that if the authorities had implemented the report of the Karnataka elephant task force (KETF), submitted in the High Court in September 2012, the situation would have been different. But due to the negligent attitude of the authorities, the elephants continued to die as usual.

The petitioner said the KETF had noted that leases and other concessions continued on forest land within key elephant habitats, including protected areas such as Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and BRT Tiger Reserve.

To deal with such a situation, the state was recommended to prepare, on a time-bound basis, an inventory of all such concessions and leases within designated forests in the elephant range and initiate necessary process to restore as much of these lands as elephant habitats, as necessary and possible.

The construction of mini-hydel projects and the possible degradation and progressive loss of habitat due to illegal felling of trees were found to be the major threat to elephant conservation, the petitioner said.

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