Legal Battle Over Elephant Corridors

Explore the ongoing legal saga concerning the preservation of crucial elephant corridors in Tamil Nadu. The court’s in-depth legal analysis and decisions are pivotal in addressing habitat protection and mitigating human-elephant conflict. Stay tuned for updates on this significant environmental and wildlife conservation case.


  • The Government of Tamil Nadu appointed an Exploratory Committee to explore the possibility of acquiring lands for elephant corridors.
  • An organization called ‘In Defence of Environment and Animals’ filed a petition to keep elephant corridors free from encroachment.
  • Several resorts were found operating illegally in the elephant corridors, leading to court directions for closure/sealing and submission of necessary approvals.
  • Actions were taken to remove electric fences and barbed wire from the corridor premises to facilitate elephant movement.
  • The Project Elephant initiative addresses issues of human-animal conflict and provides welfare for captive elephants.
  • Challenges faced by elephants include habitat destruction, encroachments, and man-made barriers.
  • The District Collector and Expert Committee played key roles in highlighting the importance of elephant corridors and taking necessary actions.
  • Various writ petitions were filed regarding the legality of the Government Order on elephant corridors.
  • Resort owners and land occupiers in the corridor area faced eviction and sealing of properties due to unauthorized occupation and construction.
  • The District Collector submitted reports and took actions as directed by the courts to address encroachments and protect elephant movement.
  • Other private land owners directed to vacate lands within the notified ‘elephant corridor’
  • State Government to take actions against resort owners and residents
  • Prohibition on illegal construction and new fencing in the elephant corridor area
  • State Government to identify the Elephant Corridor within one month with the help of Forest Department and NGOs
  • Publication of the Elephant Corridor map in local newspapers with details of private lands within the corridor
  • Intimation of proposed Elephant Corridor to local Panchayats
  • Expert Committee’s mandate did not impinge upon the Wildlife Act boards
  • Direction to resort owners and state’s PCCF for preservation of the elephant corridor
  • Strict adherence to provisions of forest rights act in case of evictions from the corridor

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  • The petitioners argue that the areas notified as elephant corridors by the State Government do not align with authoritative studies on historic corridors in Sigur Plateau
  • Elephants require large areas for grazing, which need to be rotated to prevent overgrazing and allow vegetation to regenerate
  • The need for land, infrastructure, and energy for the growing population has fragmented elephant habitats
  • There is a discrepancy in acreage between the Expert Committee’s recommendations and the State Government’s G.O.
  • Corridors help elephants intermingle, preventing conflicts and ensuring genetic diversity
  • The Plan of Action Report by the District Collector is deemed fallacious and illegal by the petitioners
  • Increasing fragmentation of forest habitat forces elephants to roam farther for resources
  • The petitioners claim their lands do not fall within the elephant corridor and object to the impugned G.O. and actions of the District Collector
  • Existing corridors are being destroyed, leading to habitat fragmentation and human-elephant conflicts
  • The petitioners contest the scientific accuracy of the Expert Committee’s Report and the newly expanded corridor areas under the G.O.
  • The appellants also argue their resorts and establishments do not fall within the historic elephant corridors identified
  • The High Court’s factual findings on the presence of elephants and human-elephant conflict near the appellants’ resorts are upheld
  • The petitioners claim the addition and deletion of lands in the G.O. is arbitrary and illegal
  • The appellants allege that there is a substantial variance between the acreage recommended for acquisition by the Expert Committee Report and the acreage in the impugned G.O.
  • Objections received in response to a newspaper advertisement were rejected by the State Government, leading to the allegation of arbitrariness.
  • The District Collector is accused of sealing the resorts of the appellants after rejecting their submitted documents showing approvals and title.
  • Allegations of the District Collector exceeding the scope of a previous court order by sealing resorts and not just removing electric fences and barbed wire.

Also Read: Analysis of High Court’s Dismissal of Second Appeal


  • The State Government of Tamil Nadu has been directed to regulate land use, especially for hotels/resorts, in the Eco-Sensitive Zones.
  • Elephant dung provides nourishment and acts as a breeding ground for insects, aiding in ecological balance.
  • Corridors in the Sigur Plateau region are crucial for connecting habitats and sustaining elephant populations.
  • Elephants are considered a ‘keystone species’ and play important ecological roles like landscape architects and seed dispersal agents.
  • Legal interventions are necessary to protect wildlife corridors from threats posed by commercial activities and habitat fragmentation.
  • Preservation of elephant corridors is essential for maintaining biodiversity, gene pool variance, and ecosystem balance.
  • The State Government has the power to protect forests and wildlife, as seen in the case of notifying the elephant corridor in private forest lands.
  • Recent declarations of areas as Eco-Sensitive Zones indicate a growing recognition of the importance of preserving wildlife habitats.
  • Wildlife corridors, like those for elephants, play a crucial role in reducing habitat isolations and sustaining diverse ecosystems.
  • The Wildlife Act and other environmental laws aim to restore ecological imbalances caused by human actions.
  • The Constitution of India mandates the protection and improvement of the environment, forests, and wildlife.
  • Court decisions have prohibited activities like tree felling to safeguard natural resources.
  • Immediate and effective action is crucial to prevent irreversible environmental damage.
  • Preservation of flora and fauna is vital for human survival, reflecting an urgent need to address extinction and environmental deterioration.
  • The acceptance of the ‘Precautionary Principle’ as part of Indian law emphasizes the need for caution in environmental matters.
  • The appellants claim that non-electric fences and fences beyond the notified elephant corridor area were removed by the District Collector.
  • The court proposes to appoint a 3-member Inquiry Committee to investigate the factual objections raised by the appellants.

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  • Objections can be raised by concerned parties before the authorities
  • Inquiry Committee has the discretion to decide location for inquiry proceedings
  • State Government to provide secretarial assistance and support to Inquiry Committee within four weeks
  • Inquiry Committee authorized to appoint temporary staff and fix their salaries
  • State Government to pay salaries of staff appointed by Inquiry Committee
  • Inquiry Committee to consider objections filed and give parties opportunity to be heard
  • Parties allowed to submit documents in support of their contentions
  • Appeals disposed with parties bearing their own costs
  • Full cooperation from State Government and district level authorities required for Inquiry Committee
  • Consultation with Chairman of Inquiry Committee for remuneration payment
  • Appellants and aggrieved persons can file objections before Inquiry Committee within four months


Case Number: C.A. No.-003438-003439 / 2020

Click here to read/download original judgement

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