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RTI activist serves legal notice on State govt
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, Feb 20 - RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury has served a legal notice on the Assam Government that he would be compelled to take recourse to legal action if the State Government does not take steps to ‘urgently demolish’ the boundary wall of the extended township constructed by the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), which comes in the way of an elephant corridor.

It needs mention here that the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in the wake of a case filed by Choudhury (Miscellaneous Application No 787/2015 and 1006/2015 in Original Application No 38/2011), on August 24, 2016, ordered that the said wall should be demolished within one month’s time. The NRL moved the Supreme Court challenging the above NGT order. But the Apex Court also dismissed the NRL appeal on January 18, 2019.

Choudhury told the Chief Secretary of the State in his legal notice served today that even after the expiry of one month of the Apex Court dismissing the NRL appeal (Diary No 41203 of 2018), the entire boundary wall of the new NRL extension township has not been demolished.

Choudhury quoted paragraph 33 (1) of NGT order dated 24th August, 2016 in this connection. The paragraph states, “As regards the wall with barbed wire fencing which comes in the way of Elephant Corridor, the same should be demolished. The area, where the wall has come up and the proposed township is to come up is a part of Deopahar ‘PRF’ (Proposed Reserved Forest). It also falls within the No-Development Zone notification, issued by the ‘MoEF’ (Ministry of Environment and Forest) in 1996. Thereby, any non-forest activity thereon would be in violation of the decision of the Apex Court in the TN Godavarman case (1996). Thus, the wall should be demolished within a period of one month and the proposed township should not come up in the present location.”

The State Government and NRL authorities have shown utter disregard for the orders of the NGT, which attracts action under Sections 26, 27 and 28 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, Choudhury said. He also added that the inaction of the Government and the NRL authorities in this regard will also be tantamount to contempt of the Supreme Court’s January 18, 2019 order.

In case no action is taken urgently to demolish the said boundary wall, then the undersigned will be constrained to take legal recourse as mandated by law against the Chief Secretary, Government of Assam, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment and Forest, Assam, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of the Forest Force, Assam, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam, besides the NRL, among others, Choudhury said.

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