Rehabilitation of Kalagarh residents in a year: U’khand to NGT

New Delhi: The rehabilitation of people living inside Kalagarh, the most sensitive core area of the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, would be done within a year, the Uttarakhand government has told the National Green Tribunal.

It informed a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that it would implement the directions of the Supreme Court and the green panel without delay or default.

“The counsel appearing for Uttarakhand submits that the inhabitants will be removed and structures would be demolished as expeditiously as possible from the Jim Corbett National Park and in any case not more than one year…

“He further states that the Deputy Commissioner of the area would file status-cum compliance report, every three months before the tribunal, to show the progress in compliance of the directions contained in the orders,” the bench said while disposing of the plea seeking rehabilitation of the residents.

The NGT had earlier also criticised the Uttar Pradesh government, whose irrigation department has a residential colony in Kalagarh constructed before Uttarakhand was carved out of the state, for non-compliance of Supreme Court order directing eviction of the residents from these colonies.

The apex court, in December 2013, had directed the UP irrigation department to vacate the residential colonies and hand them over to Uttarakhand government within six months.

The green panel had also constituted a committee comprising Director of the tiger reserve, senior officials of the environment ministry, UP pollution control board and irrigation departments of UP and Uttarakhand. It had asked the panel to conduct a survey in the area and submit a report.

It had asked the committee to indicate in its report the number of existing structures in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Kalagarh, status of these structures and the area which is to be marked as eco-sensitive zone beyond the limits of the park.

In its December 2013 judgement, the Supreme Court had upheld the 2004 report of its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to return the encroached New Kalagarh irrigation colony to the Corbett Tiger Reserve and set a six-month deadline for the state government to ensure compliance.

In August 1966, the Forest Department of undivided Uttar Pradesh had handed over around 9,000 hectares of Corbett National Park land to the state Irrigation Department for the Ramganga hydel project.

The houses were built for people at the site during the construction of the Ram Ganga Dam also known as the Kalagarh Dam, which was completed in 1974.

The Supreme Court had handed this case over to the National Green Tribunal last year.