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Submit action taken report on possession of KNP land, Gauhati HC tells Forest dept
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, Aug 27 - The Gauhati High Court has asked the State Forest Department to submit its action taken report on the possession of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th addition land of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in the districts of Golaghat and Biswanath by November 23, 2020.

 It needs mention here that the KNP is yet to get the possession of 1,461.59 hectares of these additions’ land from the district authorities.

The Gauhati High Court on October 9, 2015 had passed an order asking the district administrations of Nagaon, Golaghat, Sonitpur and Biswanath to hand over the possession of the land belonging to the KNP additions to the park authorities by freeing them from human encroachment. The High Court order came in the wake of a PIL (suo motu) no.66/2012, PIL no.67/2012 and Writ Petitions (Civil) nos.4860/2013 and 648/2013.

Following the above High Court order, the Nagaon district administration carried out eviction drives at Banderdubi, Deosur and Palkhowa on June 19, 2016 and handed over the possession of the entire area of 316.23 hectares to the KNP authorities on May 13, 2020.

Similarly, the Sonitpur district administration handed over possession of the entire area of 7,752 hectares belonging to the 6th addition of the KNP in three phases. The Biswanath district administration also handed over the possession of 31,463 hectares, out of the 32,398 hectares of the 6th addition land to the KNP authorities in nine phases, thus leaving 935 hectares of the 6th addition land to be handed over to the park authorities.

Information available suggest that the Golaghat district administration is yet to hand over the possession of 526.59 hectares of the total 832.10 hectares of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th addition land to the park authorities. The KNP authorities had taken over the possession of 120.17 hectares of these three additions’ land prior to the High Court order and after the Court passed its order, the park authorities got the possession of 185.34 hectares of the 2nd addition land.

The total notified area covered by the 2nd addition of the KNP stands to be 646.98 hectares, while that of the 3rd addition stands to be 69.76 hectares and that of the 5th addition stands to be 115.36 hectares. Of these areas, the park authorities have so far got the possession of 255.24 hectares of the 2nd addition land, 13.62 hectares of the 3rd addition land and 36.65 hectares of the 5th addition land.

The Registrar (Judicial) of the Gauhati High Court has written to the State’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden to submit a “fresh Action Taken Report” on the compliance of the above Gauhati High Court order by November 23, 2020 “with regard to the delivery of possession of the remaining land to the KNP authority”.

In his letter, the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court said “A total of 39,836.74 hectares of the notified evicted areas has been delivered to the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) authority. However, possession of 1,461.59 hectares of land in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th additions to the KNP in the districts of Golaghat and Biswanath is yet to be handed over.”

The Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court has also asked the State’s Environment and Forest Department’s Principal Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department’s Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force “…to bring to the notice of the officers who have been entrusted to submit separate compliance reports within 23-11-2020 the present matter and the developments so as to enable submission of such reports within the time fixed.”

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