NAINITAL: Garbage heaps are now making a presence in the country’s forests too. The reserve forest near Bhakra range, 10 km from Haldwani city, has a large garbage heap bang in the middle of an important elephant corridor. On occasion, one catches sight of a majestic tusker making a meal of the mess. Forest department officials, asked if the garbage – which includes medical waste – might endanger the lives of wild elephants, said the “situation is being monitored”.
Parag Madhukar Dhakate, forest officer of the Terai Central and East divisions, told TOI, “Patrolling has been heightened in the area. CCTV cameras will soon be installed to keep vigil on such spots. Violation of wildlife laws and damaging flora and fauna will not be tolerated.”
The garbage heap lies in the elephant corridor between Fatehpur to Gadgadia. The district forest officer said the movement of elephants is not quite seasonal, though there is much movement in summer months when the animals head about in search of water too, among other things.
The use of a reserve forest area as a garbage site violates four pivotal laws: Forest Conservation Act 1980, Environment Protection Act, 1986, Public Liability Act, 1991 and Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Private vehicles can be spotted driving here to dump tonnes of garbage on a daily basis. Since the area does not fall under the jurisdiction of the municipality, authorities wash their hands of it.
Mayor Jogendra Rautela of the Haldwani-Kathgodam municipal corporation said, “We don’t dump garbage from the city at random spots. We have specific sites at which garbage is disposed, and certainly not in reserve forest areas.”