SC upholds Madras HC order against encroachments in the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor

The case in Madras High Court dates back to 2011 when the court ruled in favour of the state government notifying a designated areas as ‘Elephant Corridor’.
Elephant Corridor Nilgiris Encroachment
Elephant Corridor Nilgiris Encroachment
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The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, upheld the decision of the Madras High Court which affirmed the government of Tamil Nadu’s power to notify the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor. The Madras high court had, in 2011, ordered that the state government had the power to notify an area as ‘Elephant Corridor’ and thereby ask the encroachers to vacate the area.

The Supreme Court reiterated that no encroachments shall be allowed in the area designated as ‘Elephant corridor’, thus validating the district administration’s efforts to seal and demolish illegal structures constructed in the corridor. 

The issue relates to an order passed by the Madras High Court stating that the government of Tamil Nadu has all the power to notify the ‘Elephant corridor’ in The Nilgiris as a management strategy. The high court’s order lent power to the district collector of The Nilgiris to identify and order for the closure and razing down of encroachments -- hotels, resorts and public buildings -- on the corridor. This included 27 resorts, which had also approached the Supreme Court against the demolishment. 

The Nilgiris district administration had identified around 821 illegal structures in the elephant corridor. The 821 structures included 39 resort complexes which had 309 buildings. Of these 39 complexes, 12 had been constructed without approvals and 27 others had received approval for residential usage but were being used for commercial purposes as per a report in The Hindu.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of 27 of these resorts since they did not appear for a hearing in connection to the case in the Apex court. The Supreme Court had also appointed an Amicus Curiae ADN Rao to study the issue and submit his report. 

In his report, he recommended that all 821 illegal structures built in the Elephant Corridor in The Nilgiris be sealed and demolished except tribal houses. He also sought the Apex Court to uphold the government of Tamil Nadu’s order that notified the Elephant Corridor in The Nilgiris. 

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