| CEC Hears WPSI’s
28th August, 2003
On 19 August 2003,
the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) heard a petition
filed by Wildlife Protection Society of India on encroachments
in the six Additions to Kaziranga National Park.
Situated on the flood plains of the
Brahmaputra, Kaziranga has suffered considerable loss
of land due to riverbank erosion along its northern
boundary. The six Additions, created by the government
of Assam to offset the loss of land due to riverbank
erosion, provide vital habitats and corridors that act
as escape routes to higher ground for Kaziranga’s
mega herbivores during the Brahmaputra’s annual
However, these Additions face an uncertain
future due to persistent litigation in the Guwahati
High Court by the encroachers.
WPSI’s petition highlighted the
damage that continuous illegal grazing and encroachments
had caused to the fragile and unique ecosystem of Kaziranga
and its Additions. It prayed that the six Additions
to the Park be cleared of encroachments. Photographs
and field reports sent by WPSI staff were used to point
out the ecological significance and specific threat
faced by each Addition.
Appreciating the gravity of the matter,
the CEC issued notices to all the respondents, including
the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief
Secretary of Assam.
In recognition of Kaziranga’s
status as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, Mr.
A. D. N. Rao, Counsel for the Ministry of Environment
and Forests, agreed to formulate a legal strategy for
the settlement of claims in Guwahati High Court. The
Ministry is the nodal agency for UNESCO in India.