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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the Assam government to respond to a plea seeking directions to declare the area around Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary an eco-sensitive zone and remove all encroachments.

A three-judge bench of Justices B R Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol has issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the state government with regard to the wildlife sanctuary in Assam.

“Issue notice, returnable on July 12, 2023. Liberty to serve the standing counsel for the State of Assam is granted,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by environmental activist Rohit Choudhury seeking directions to precisely demarcate the boundary of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary without any further delay.

The petition contended that the boundary of the sanctuary notified in 1998 under the Wildlife Protection Act is yet to be precisely marked and the control of a part of the sanctuary area, the Khas land (government controlled land), is yet to be handed over to the Forest department by the district administration.

The petition alleged the authorities have taken no effective measures to declare the area around the sanctuary an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in blatant disregard for a Supreme Court order dated December 11, 2018.

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“…As is evident from the series of letters exchanged between various forest officials as well as those with the Deputy Commissioner, Morigaon district, despite the passage of twenty-five years, the boundary of the Pobitora sanctuary is yet to be physically demarcated precisely,” the plea said.

“Direct the respondents to precisely demarcate the boundary of the Pobitora Wild Life Sanctuary as per notification dated March 17, 1998 without any further delay,” it said.

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