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NGT bans roadside shops to curb animal casualties

                                                                                                                                     The Tribune, New Delhi, 9th February, 2015

New Delhi, February 8
The National Green Tribunal has ordered a ban on roadside shops and eateries along the animal corridors near Assam's Kaziranga National Park among a slew of directions in the wake of increasing wildlife casualties due to vehicular movement on the adjacent highway.

Taking exception to the state's failure to address the issue, it also directed the Assam Government to submit records of animal fatality for 2013 and 2014 on the next date of hearing, March 12.

"The state government has not taken effective measures to prevent animal casualty on the National Highway No. 37 which is passing along the Kaziranga National Park stretch, one of the most prestigious national parks in the country.

"Animals being living creatures and part and parcel of environment, certainly need due care and protection and their killing on the roads adds to degradation and consequent pollution of the environment besides loss of precious wildlife in the country," a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The tribunal asked the state government to ensure sensor-operated automatic barriers are fixed at animal corridors and ascertain whether speed check cameras were in working condition or not.

"Shops and eateries (dhabas) should not be permitted on the roadside along the animal corridors and due care is to be taken in this regard.

"Complete data shall be submitted of the vehicles challaned for exceeding the limit specified in that area which would be prominently displayed," the Bench said.

It also directed the state government to remove and demolish unauthorised structures on the roadside, particularly in the animal corridors.

The tribunal's direction came while hearing a plea filed by environmentalist Rohit Choudhury opposing expansion of the highway stretch claiming that "continued unregulated use of NH-37 is leading to death of wild animals and reptiles in large numbers in road accidents". — PTI