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HC directs Assam govt not to de-notify Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary

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Guwahati, April 9: The Gauhati High Court has directed the Assam government not to issue any notification de-notifying Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary.

The High Court order comes in the wake of a recent decision by the Assam Cabinet to de-notify Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary while taking note of the fact that at the time of notifying the Deepor Beel area as Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 2009, certain formalities that were mandatory in nature, were not carried out.

The division bench of Chief Justice Vijay Bishnoi and Justice Suman Shyam observed that “once the notification declaring the Deepor Beel as Wildlife Sanctuary had been affirmed by the division bench of the court and an SLP filed against the decision of the division bench is pending consideration in the honourable Supreme Court, we are of the view that any decision to de-notify the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary is not warranted at this stage.”

“Hence, we direct the state government not to issue any notification de-notifying the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary,” the division bench ordered while hearing an interlocutory application (IA) filed in a PIL by the petitioner.

In the PIL, a prayer was made before the High Court to direct the concerned authority not to land fill up land in the Deepor Beel area and not to allow any type of construction activities in and around the Deepor Beel site till the demarcation notification of Ramsar Site of Deepor Beel was made along with the notification for its eco-sensitive zone, as required under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, and place the record pertaining to the Cabinet decision taken or pending approval of the eco-sensitive zone of Deepor Beel.

The counsel for the petitioner had informed this court that on March 27, 2024, the state Cabinet had taken a decision to de-notify the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary.

On the other hand, Advocate General, Assam D. Saikia had on April 3, 2024 submitted that though the state Cabinet decided to de-notify the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary, no formal notification was issued till that time.

Subsequently, an additional affidavit was filed before the court on behalf of the state government wherein it was stated that the Cabinet had decided to de-notify the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary.

It was also submitted that though the Cabinet had taken a decision to de-notify the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary but no formal notification was issued till date in the absence of certain formalities such as prior permission from the State Board of Wildlife and National Board of Wildlife and also prior approval from the Supreme Court.

It was further stated in the affidavit that only after getting approval from the State Board of Wildlife and National Board of Wildlife as well as from the Supreme Court, the notification for de-notifying the Deepor Beel Wildlife Century would be issued.

The court, after taking into consideration the fact that the state government had declared Deepor Beel as Wildlife Sanctuary by issuing a notification, observed that the said notification was challenged before the court by way of filing W.P.(C) No. 4113/2009 and the single judge bench had set aside the said notification dated February 21, 2009 vide decision dated December 21, 2017.

It further observed that the said decision of the single judge was challenged before the division bench of the court by the state government and the division bench of the court vide judgment dated March 24, 2023 passed in W.A. No. 02/2018, has reversed the judgment of the single judge by allowing the appeal filed by the state.

“Now suddenly the state government has come up with the stand that in the year 2009, when the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary was notified, certain formalities, which were mandatory in nature, had not been carried out. It is informed that against the decision of the division bench of this Court on March 24, 2023, passed in W.A. No. 02/2018, an SLP is pending adjudication before the honourable Supreme Court,” the court noted, subsequently directing the state government not to issue any notification de-notifying the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

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