Srinagar: The High Court on Tuesday directed the Chief Wildlife Warden Kashmir to submit a report on how much damage had been done to the environment (flora and fauna) in Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary because of government/ private agencies, especially Sterlite Power that is constructing a power transmission line through the sanctuary.
The court also directed Junaid Rashid, who had filed a PIL in this regard, to inform the court about the damage done to Hirpora Sanctuary.
The direction was passed after the court was informed about a status report dated August 7, 2017, filed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest saying that Sterlite Power had deposited a penalty amount with the J&K Wildlife Protection Department for damage it had caused to the Hirpora Sanctuary.
Hearing this, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur remarked that in their view, merely deposit of a penalty amount cannot effect reparation for damage to the environment.
The court said, “Let the Chief Wildlife Warden as well as the petitioner place before this Court the damage (to the environment) on account of the violation by the respondent company. Both the petitioner as well as the Chief Wildlife Warden shall suggest what measures are necessary to ensure restoration of the Wildlife Sanctuary and to remove the ill effects of the omissions and commissions of the respondent. The report on these aspects be filedwithin two weeks from today.”
The court also directed Chief Wildlife Warden to inform the court as to whether the penalty amount would be sufficient to meet the costs of the restoration measures which are required to be undertaken.
The court granted the central government to file response on another PIL filed by a group of lawyers – advocate Bakhat Parvaiz, advocate Sameer-ul-hamid Dar, advocate Khursheed Ahmed Dar, advocate Rayees Ali, and advocate Junaid Rashid.
In the petition they submitted that animal species including the Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Musk Deer, Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Palm Civet, and about 50 individuals of the critically endangered Pir Panjal Markhor, besides 130 bird species, were found in the Hirpora Sanctuary.
“Government should start investigation and should take stern actions against the contractors engaged in laying 400KV D/C Transmission Line through the sanctuary, and file status report regarding the damage done to the species,” reads the petition.