Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal establishments in the Rajaji tiger reserve

  • 24/02/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of All India Young Lawyers Association Vs State of Uttarakhand & Others dated 24/02/2023.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), February 24, 2023 directed constitution of a committee of higher level officers to look into the matter of illegal establishments in the Rajaji tiger reserve and "if necessary, get updated demarcation".

An application was received by the tribunal against illegal functioning of hotels, resorts, pubs, clubs and ashrams and other illegal commercial activities in Chilla range of Rajaji National Park.

A joint committee report constituted on the orders of the NGT acknowledged illegal operation of 19 resorts and the tribunal, October 10, 2022 directed that remedial action against violations be taken within three months including recovery of compensation on 'polluter pays' principle and restoration of the environment. According to the report of Director, Rajaji Tiger Reserve, February 14, 2023 action has been taken against illegally operating resorts. Further, six resorts were outside the boundary of tiger reserve.

The NGT, February 24 said that the report does not cover the issue fully. The court said that constructions are prohibited and regulated not only within the forest but also outside within 1 km of boundary of tiger reserve which is also covered by eco-sensitive zone.

"It is thus wrongly assumed that the resorts outside the boundary of the Tiger Reserve are legal even if they are within one km of boundary of the tiger reserve," the bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, Sudhir Agarwal and Arun Kumar Tyagi of the NGT said.