The National Green Tribunal today directed the Uttarakhand government to file an affidavit with regard to the rehabilitation of villagers living inside the eco-sensitive Rajaji National Park in the state. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim asked the Trivendra Singh Rawat government to explain in detail the status of the people residing inside the park after the lawyer for the petitioner said the state has failed to provide basic necessities to the people. The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Uttarakhand resident Madan Singh Bisht seeking constitution of a monitoring committee to look into the issue of rehabilitation of the revenue village ‘chaks’ (estates) which lie within the boundaries of the Rajaji National Park. Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for Bisht, told the tribunal that Uttarakhand government has failed to provide facilities like electricity, potable water, medical facilities to the children and families living inside the eco-sensitive area. The matter is now fixed for hearing on August 31. The plea had contended that in 1983, MoEF and Uttarakhand government had issued a notification and established the Rajaji national park. However, there was no mention of revenue estates falling within it.
The villagers had then raised objections, following which some committees were constituted and after a few meetings resolutions were adopted for taking necessary steps to exclude revenue chaks from the national park area. However till date, the authorities have not taken any decision regarding exclusion of the revenue chaks from the national park, the plea had said. Bisht had claimed that besides non-development of the area which fell within the park, the villages were facing many difficulties as there was always a looming threat of life from wild animals. “The Chief Conservator Forest wrote a letter to Satpal Maharaj, (then) Member of Parliament from the region, about increase in human-wildlife clashes and said rehabilitation was the only option available,” the plea had said. It had sought the exclusion of all revenue village ‘chaks’ from the boundaries of the Rajaji National Park and provision of basic facilities to these estates which are not excluded from boundaries of the National Park.