The Supreme court on January 18 made a remarkable decision by ordering a public oil refinery in Assam to remove a wall that stood in the midst of an elephant corridor in Deopahar Reserve Forest, next to Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat.

As per reports, a controversial wall was erected in the proximity to the Kaziranga National Park, by public sector oil company Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and back in 2016, National Green Tribunal refused to review the order of its demolition but eventually dragged NRL to court in August 2018.

“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. It also falls within the No-Development Zone notification, issued by the MoEF 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 NGT had ordered in its 2016 judgment in a case titled Rohit Choudhary vs UoI and Others.

Source : WWF

A video went viral in 2015 as an elephant died of brain haemorrhage after hitting the wall repeatedly by its head. “Elephants have first right on the forest,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, one of the two judges overseeing the case’s proceedings said. “Elephants do not go to the office in a designated route. We cannot encroach upon the elephant’s area,” said the bench.

Rohit Choudhury, an environment activist from Assam who has been fighting for environmental conservation in the region said “I am extremely happy about what the Supreme Court has said on the matter…a strongly worded statement in favour of wildlife and elephants. I hope the NRL will now fall in line and demolish the wall, after which elephants will be able to walk again in the Deopahar Reserve Forest.”

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