Elephant deaths in the country have reached an appalling number. In the last one year, if we rule out natural causes, the number of elephants that died after being hit by vehicles on highways, or after being electrocuted on railway tracks, is worrying.
And as they rightly say, the elephant wasn’t crossing the road; the road was crossing the forest.
As reported in the Times of India, in an effort to clamp down on resorts operating without approval in the elephant corridor of the Nilgiris, the Supreme Court has ordered the closure of 27 resorts, while 12 resorts have been given 48 hours to submit documents showing permission to have a resort at those locations.
The collector of the Nilgiris District in Tamil Nadu issued a “Plan of Action Report” against resorts which were found to be encroaching on elephant paths, following which notices were given to all 39 resorts.
Lawyers representing only 12 of them were present in the court.
The bench consisting of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said, “it is deemed that they (the unrepresented 27 resorts) accept the report” issued by the collector. They further said that the report is “to the effect that they are running commercial enterprises even though they do not have the approval for the same.”
The represented 12 resorts have been given 48 hours to produce documents of permission showing that the resorts are not in fact, encroaching upon wildlife territory. The apex court has given them
“48 hours time to produce all documents showing approval and valid title and possession for running resorts before the Collector…
in case, the Collector finds that the documentation is incomplete of approval is not granted, she could close down and seal the premises immediately thereafter.”
The Supreme Court has observed that elephants are national heritage and must be protected at all costs. In fact, as reported in the News Minute, expressing his displeasure, Justice Lokur remarked, “An elephant is supposed to be a national heritage animal. This is how we treat our national heritage.”
In many instances, wild animals like the elephants, big cats or other carnivores are termed as ferocious or dangerous, but the truth is that these territorial, vulnerable animals can be quite defensive in the wild. If they see any threat, even in human form, they might charge at you with full force. And as it is humans who are wandering into forest territory, elephants should not suffer for it.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)