Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday informed the Madras High Court that as many as 186 illegal brick kilns located close to elephant corridors in the Western Ghats have been shut down. The First Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was hearing a PIL petition from animal activist Muralidharan when the government counsel informed thus.
According to the petitioner, the illegal mining operation in the Thadagam region in Coimbatore was the sole reason behind the rising number of man-animal conflicts. "The brick kilns and the mining of the red sand for bricks have destroyed important corridors used by the elephants to migrate to contiguous forest areas. This is resulting in elephants moving into human settlements and damaging crops and lives," he said.
Earlier, the Bench had directed the State to take immediate measures to ensure that the brick kilns functioned within the prescribed parameters after obtaining licence from the appropriate authority.
When the matter came up again on March 31, Wednesday, the counsel representing the Chief Secretary, submitted that a detailed audit was conducted across Somayampalayam, Nanjundapuram and Pannimadai villages in Coimbatore north taluk where it was found that several erring units were in operation. Recording the submission, the Bench directed the State to file a detailed report and adjourned the matter till April 6.
Reportedly, in an RTI query, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Tamil Nadu Forest Department had informed that between 2015 and 2019, 476 elephants have died in the state this includes 85 tuskers that died between January 1, 2020 and September 2, 2020. Notably, in 2020, the Supreme Court had upheld a Madras High Court order against encroachments in the elephant corridor in the Nilgiris.
(With inputs from PTI)