New Delhi: The Supreme Court on January 22 said that the elephant is a gentleman and the man should give way for these tuskers. The court made the statement while expressing its willingness to uphold the Tamil Nadu government order notifying the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor.

"We are dealing with a very fragile eco-system. These elephants can become extinct in no time if illegal activities are not curbed in the elephant corridor. We do not want anybody to create trouble for elephants," said the bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.

The bench said it would appoint a three-member committee headed by a former high court judge to inspect the Nilgiris area in the state of Tamil Nadu. It also said that a panel would consider which of the hotels or resorts are authorised or unauthorised for the purpose of granting compensation to the owners of such commercial establishments.

The bench said it would not deal with the validity of the declaration with regard to specifying the area as the elephant corridor. It said the owners of commercial establishments in Nilgiris area would be compensated only if their structures are found to be authorised.

"We want to protect the routes and areas used by elephants, and if you (hotel owners) are found in their way then you will have to be relocated," the bench said.

The top court had earlier asked the Tamil Nadu government to seal or close down 27 commercial establishments in the Nilgiri elephant corridor. The district collector of Nilgiris had said in the report that resorts with restaurants were operating in the area even though they did not have approval for the same.

The apex court was told earlier that around 18,000 elephants have come to Tamil Nadu during the monsoon season due to which the court must direct these resorts and hotels to cut off their power connection.

The owners of some of these hotels and resorts have also filed appeals in the apex court against a Madras high court order against them in this regard.

The top court had earlier said it was "extremely unfortunate" that several states had not responded to two communications sent by the Centre on the issue of elephant corridors to curb incidents of human-animal conflict and reduce animal fatalities.

It had stressed on the need to have elephant corridors across the country to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons and asked the Centre to come up with some "workable solution" in this regard.

The Centre had told the court that there are 27 "critical" elephant corridors in 22 states across the country.