A two-member division bench of Gauhati high court comprising Justice AK Goel and Justice N K Singh has directed Assam government to evict encroachers from certain new additions to Kaziranga National Park, the famous abode of one-horned rhinos in Assam, and handover the same to the national park authority within three months after completion of the entire process.
The high court has issued the directive to the State government of Assam in connection with a suo moto Public Interest Litigation (66/2012) taken up by the court in the wake of recent incidents of rhino poaching in the KNP as well as another PIL filed by one Mrinal Saikia (67/2012) asking for intervention of the Court in prevention of rhino poaching incidents in the national park known for its treasure trove of one-horned of Indian rhinoceros.
Giving the verdict the court directed the state government to inform the court about the action taken on the basis of its directive on the day of the next hearing that will be held after three months.
In an affidavit filed before the court, Assam government has informed that though the decision to handover the sixth and last new addition to KNP authority was taken way back in 2012, the area was yet to be handed over to the park authority.
In an affidavit filed before the court the state government has informed that the area under first addition to the KNP (43.79 sq km), second addition (6.47 Sqkm) and third addition (0.67 sqkm) were already handed over to the park authority.
However, the areas under the fourth addition (0. 89 sq.km), fifth addition (1.15sqkm) and sixth addition (401.50 sqkm) are yet to be handed over to the park authority.
Moreover, the State government has admitted that there have been encroachments of land in new additions to the KNP except areas under the first and fourth additions. But the government has stated that the core area of the park is devoid of any encroachment.
The forest department of Assam also informed the court about direct and indirect involvement of encroachers residing in new additions in rhino poaching incidents in the national park and submitted confession statement of apprehended poachers in support of its claim.