4.NILGIRI ELEPHANT CORRIDOR CASE
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) appointed a conservationist as Member of a Technical Committeeconstituted in the October 2020 caseto hear complaints bylandowners against sealing of their buildings infringing the Nilgiri Elephant CorridorinTamil Nadu by the state authorities.
ABOUT THE OCTOBER 2020 CASE:
- In October 2020, SC had upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s authority to notify an ‘elephant corridor’and protect the migratory path of the animalsthrough the Nilgiri biosphere reserve.
- The SC had said it was the State’s duty to protect a “keystone species”such as elephants, immensely important to the environment.
- The SC also allowed the formation of a committeeled by a retired HC judge and two other persons to hear the individual objections of resort owners and private landowners within the corridor space.
- The SC judgment was based on appeals filed by resorts/private landowners, against a Madras High Court decision of July 2011.
NILGIRIS ELEPHANT CORRIDOR:
- The corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau, which connects the Western and the Eastern Ghatsand sustains elephantpopulations and their genetic diversity.
- It is situated near the Mudumalai National Parkin the Nilgiris district.
- It has the Nilgiri hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar river valleyon itsnortheastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water.
- There are about 100 elephant corridors in India of which almost 70% are used regularly.
- 75% of the corridors are in the southern, central and north-eastern forests.
- There are an estimated 6,500 elephants in just the Brahmagiri-Nilgiris-Eastern Ghats ranges.
CHALLENGES FOR ELEPHANT CORRIDORS:
- ‘Right of Passage’, an 800-page study released in August 2017, authored by experts and published by the Wildlife Trust of India(WTI)identifies and records details pertaining to 101 elephant corridors across India.
- Narrowing Passage Width: Only 22% corridors are of a width of one to three kilometres in 2017, compared with 41% in 2005, pointing to how constricted corridors have become in the past 12 years.
- About 36.4% of the elephant corridors in northwestern India, 32% in central India, 35.7% in northern West Bengal and 13% of the elephant corridors in northeastern India have a railway linepassing through them.
- Almost two-thirds of the corridors have a National or State Highwaypassing through them, fragmenting habitats and hindering elephantmovement further.
- 11% of corridors have canals passing through them.
- 12% are affected by mining and the extraction of boulders.
- In terms of land use, only 12.9% of the corridors are totally under forest cover in 2017 compared with 24% in 2005.
- Two in every three elephant corridors in the country are now affected by agricultural activities.