New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday directed six states including Odisha to respond to communications sent by the Centre on the issue of elephant corridors to curb human-animal conflict and reduce animal fatalities within two weeks time.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that it was “extremely unfortunate” that the states of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha and Tripura have not responded to the Centre’s communications.
The apex court pulled up these states and noted that only three — Kerala, West Bengal and Meghalaya — have so far responded to the letters sent by the Centre in August and November last year.
The apex court also expressed its displeasure that counsel representing several states including Odisha were not present in the courtroom during the hearing.
Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that a committee has already been formed to consider the suggestions, including making corridors across India for safe passage of elephants and other endangered animals.
He said that in an another related matter, which is pending in the apex court, they had sent communications to several states to know about the action taken by them in this regard but only three of them have responded so far.
During the hearing, the bench also expressed its concern that three elephants had died last week in the country.
The apex court had earlier stressed on the need to have elephant corridors across the country to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons and had asked the Centre to come out with some “workable solution” in this regard.
The court was hearing a batch of pleas which have raised the issue of having elephant corridors across India.
On January 19, the Centre had informed another bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that a standing committee of the wildlife board would consider suggestions, including making 27 corridors across India for safe passage of elephants and other endangered animals.
The petitioners in the case pending before the CJI-led bench had given suggestions, including a mechanism to curb human-animal conflict, measures to reduce animal deaths on the roads, highways and by electrocution and plan to protect critically-endangered Great Indian Bustard.
The petitioners had also referred to unnatural deaths of elephants on highways and railway tracks and said that areas earmarked for these animals were not sufficient.