Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding protection of Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary, Manipur, 20/03/2024

  • 20/03/2024

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Mathew Gonmei Vs State of Manipur & Others dated 20/03/2024.

The Original Application has been filed by the Applicant stating that Zeiladjang village, of which the applicant is a resident, is surrounded by Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary with Zeilad lake and its surrounding area covering roughly 21 square kilometers. It is stated that this entire area was declared as the Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary by Manipur Government Gazette Notification No.60/2/95-For dated 24.04.1997 in view of the numerous ecological, fauna, flora, geomorphological, natural and ecological presence in the area to constitute a wildlife sanctuary for the purpose of protecting and propagating wildlife and its environment.  

The Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary is stated to consist of the following animals – Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard (both clouded and common leopard), Leopard Cat, Golden Cat, Small Indian Civet, Yellow throated Martin, Toddy Cat, Large Indian Civet, Common Langur, Hog Badger, Hoolock Gibbon, Bear, Great Indian Hornbill, Pied Hornbill, Jungle Fowl, Sambhar, Barking Deer, Serow, Flying Squirrel, Pangolin, Slow Loris etc. as per report dated February 16, 1994 of the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Manipur Zoological Garden.

The applicant has alleged that there is large scale felling of trees and encroachment in the wildlife sanctuary. It is stated that the Eco Sensitive Zone of Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary was declared by Notification No. S.O.3309 (E) dated October 20, 2016. There is also allegation of exploitation of forest produce by traders and poachers which has posed a threat to the survival of the sanctuary. There is also an allegation of burnt cultivation.

It is also stated that it is not possible to take conservation steps by the state of Manipur  under the relevant sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, if the process of Section 25 and 26 of the Act, 1972, already pending, is not completed.

The applicant is also stated to have submitted a representation dated January 3, 2024 before the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Chief Wildlife Warden, Manipur, Imphal, alleging that the boundary of the sanctuary is not specified as a result of which uncontrolled tree felling is going on continuously and due to lack of conservation not only deforestation has occurred in some areas but drying up of lakes and pollution in the lakes an example being pollution of Napsemzei lake.

The eastern bench of the NGT said that the matter required consideration and directed notices to be issued to all the respondents and they have been asked to file their counter affidavits within four weeks. The respondents included the State of Manipur; Directorate of Environment and Climate Change; Divisional Forest Officer, Tamenglong forest division; and Deputy Commissioner Tamenglong. The next hearing of the case will be on April 29, 2024.