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February 26, 2020
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Supreme Court upholds T.N. Government Order on the fragile Nilgiris Elephant Corridor

Noting that “the elephant is a gentleman and man should give way for the elephant”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated that it will uphold the Tamil Nadu Government Order that notified the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor in 2010.‘Big but fragile’“Elephants are big, powerful but fragile. We are dealing with a fragile eco-system. Look at the money involved in poaching. See the rampant poaching of rhinos in Assam… Man must give way to the elephant. We are not gong to allow anyone to come in the path of the elephant,” Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said.The court is hearing on a report filed by its amicus curiae A. D. N. Rao to seal or demolish over 800 buildings, except tribal houses, within the areas marked as an elephant corridor by the Tamil Nadu government, represented by advocate Yogesh Kanna, situated in the Masinagudi area near the Mudumalai National Park (close to the Serugu plateau) in the Nilgiris. The area falls on the way from Ooty to Mysore.The court, reserving its orders, said it would not take any decision on individual cases of sealing or demolition. Chief Justice Bobde orally said that the court would appoint a committee led by a retired High Court judge to hear and decide the individual grievances of those affected by the government notification under the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forest (TNPPF) Act, 1949.Illegal resortsWhen some of the resort owners in the area said that elephant and man do co-exist, Chief Justice Bobde wryly replied, “It is because the elephant is a gentleman… Why do you have to go inside the forest?”Mr. Rao, in his report, had urged the court to uphold the validity of the State Government Order of 2010 and dismiss the Special Leave Petitions filed against a plan of action report prepared by the Nilgiris District Collector on illegal resorts within the protected area.The court is hearing a 1996 Public Interest Litigation filed by A. Rangarajan, wherein directions were issued that no construction would be allowed in elephant corridors, as mentioned in the Elephant Task Force titled ‘Gajah’. The elephant corridor in the Nilgiris is 22.64 km long and 1.5 km wide. It is a vital link for 900 elephants to traverse between the Eastern and Western Ghats.

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