NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu government was asked to seal or close down 11 resorts and hotels built in violation of law on the elephant corridor of Nilgiris. The Supreme Court directed the state government to implement its order by Saturday.
The Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also directed that resorts and hotels with valid permits would have to produce their papers to the District Collector within 24 hours. If the Collector comes to a conclusion that a resort or hotel has been constructed without prior approval, s/he has the right to shut it down.
Stating that elephants were national heritage, the Bench expressed displeasure over the existence of illegal construction on the elephant corridor of Nilgiris.
“It is a welcome move towards reducing man-elephant conflict but implementing it may be a big problem,” V Sundararaju, former District Forest Officer, Kanyakumari and currently working as consultant Society for the Social Forestry Research and Development (SSFRDT), Tamil Nadu, was quoted as saying by a national media.
“In Mettupalayam, at the foot of the Nilgiris, many educational institutions and religious centres (including some very big names in the spirituality industry) have come up. This area lies in the jurisdiction of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. Around the Mudumalai main elephant corridor, many private resorts have come up. They lure wild elephants with bananas and sugarcane and acclamatise them to human presence. This is especially dangerous as the animals lose their fear of man.” he added.
A case related to new resorts that have come up in the Moyar Valley elephant corridor has been pending in the Supreme Court for six years. The apex court had made it clear that no construction activity would be carried out in the elephant corridors. It had also asked the Collector to inform the court as to how these establishments could be identified, when were they built and how. The owners of some of these hotels and resorts have also filed appeals in the apex court against a Madras High Court order against them in this regard.
According to the Union government, there are 27 critical elephant corridors in 22 states.