Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, March 3, 2024

Make 27 elephant corridors human-free, SC urges govt










New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Union government to consider making 27 high priority elephant corridors in nine states human free by acquiring land. Nearly 3,000 people have died in the last seven years in conflicts with elephants. 




Appearing for petitioner Vidya Athreya, senior advocate Shyam Divan told a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud that elephant-human conflict was acute and fatal, for both elephants and humans, along villages that have encroached upon traditional migratory routes of elephant herds. 




"In view of the high density of human population in India at 395 persons per square kilometres, it is not possible to keep humans and animals away from each other. It is impossible to confine wild animals to designated protected areas like national parks, sanctuaries and reserve forests. Their migration routes have been hindered by new habitats, cultivation, roads and railway and canals. Consequently, human-elephant conflict is taking a huge toll on human life and property as well as on elephants," Divan said. He added that the ministry of forests and environment as well as states must consider securing the 27 identified elephant corridors, which were accorded high priority by the central government's task force in its August 2013 report titled 'Gajah'. He said this could be done through acquisition of land or by entering into lease with land owners. 




The bench told the Centre that the court did not mind the government taking some time to respond to the petitioner's proposal but it must examine the suggestion thoroughly while filing its response. The SC gave the Centre three months to consult states concerned before filing its response. 




The Centre had informed Parliament last year that 2,804 people had lost their lives in human-elephant conflicts between 2009-10 and 2015-16. West Bengal topped the list with 585 deaths in seven years, followed by Assam with 473 and Odisha with 461 deaths. The ministry had also said that in January 2015, it had decided to follow the African model and erect bee and chilly fences to prevent conflict.