Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Orissa High Court has issued an interim stay on the proceedings of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in which an ultimatum was issued to the Odisha government over notifying of elephant corridors in the State.

On April 6, NGT had ordered the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) in Odisha to notify about the elephant corridors in Odisha. The tribunal had also warned the PCCF of proceedings under Section 26 of the NGT Act, 2010 if the elephant corridors in the state are not notified within a month.

In response, the Odisha government had moved to the High Court seeking its intervention against the NGT’s order. Hearing the case, the Court issued a stay order on NGT’s proceedings until further hearing of the case. The next hearing of the case will be on May 9. As per the order of the High Court, NGT can’t take any stern action against PCCF until then.

It is pertinent to mention that the NGT in August 2021 had asked the Odisha government to release the notification regarding 14 elephant corridors in the State. As the State government had reportedly failed to issue the notification, conservationists lodged a complaint following which the NGT had issued the ultimatum.

Conservationists in Odisha had moved the NGT alleging that though the Principal Chief Conservator of forests (Wildlife) had submitted details of elephant corridors in Odisha to the forest and environment department in the State in 2012 for identification of 14 corridors with a total area of 870.61 sq. kms, no action was taken for their formal notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Notably, the NGT intervention came in the wake of rising elephant deaths in Odisha since 2001.