The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to seal 11 resorts and hotels constructed illegally in the elephant corridor in the Nilgiris within 48 hours, PTI reported. Resorts and hotels with valid permits have to produce their papers to District Collector Innocent Divya within 24 hours, said a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur.
The judges said elephants were the country’s “national heritage” and expressed displeasure about the encroachments.
On July 12, the court ordered the district collector to chalk out a plan to deal with new resorts that have come up in the Moyar Valley elephant corridor and made it clear that no construction activity would be carried out in the area.
In 2009, the Madras High Court ordered the Nilgiris district collector to file a status report detailing the steps taken to remove encroachments, The Times of India reported. The High Court adjourned the hearing in August but issued no further orders.
The Tamil Nadu government issued an order in August 2010, confirming the elephant corridor map it had published that January on the High Court’s orders. However, land owners approached the Supreme Court with 32 leave petitions against the court’s decision.
The Moyar Valley elephant corridor case has been pending in the Supreme Court for six years. The Tamil Nadu government filed counter affidavits to all 32 leave petitions.