NEW DELHI, Jan 31:
The National Green Tribunal today granted a week’s time to a committee, formed by it, to file a report regarding alleged illegal and unauthorised felling of large number of trees in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar asked the Additional Chief Conservator of Forest of the area, who was appointed the chairman of a panel constituted by the tribunal, to explain why the report has not yet been filed despite its order.
“If the averments made in the petition are correct, it is a very serious matter. The whole forest has been wiped out,” the bench observed.
“We have not yet received the report. The Additional Chief Conservator of Forest of the area shall also explain why the report has not been filed. List this matter for February 7,” the bench, also comprising judicial member Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and expert member Bikram Singh Sajwan, said.
The bench was hearing a petition by Jammu and Kashmir resident Dharam Singh and six others alleging that certain miscreants have been causing large-scale destruction of forest and erosion of vegetation in and around Ramban.
The tribunal had appointed advocate Sanjay Upadhyay as an amicus curiae in the matter and had formed a six-member panel headed by Additional Chief Conservator of Forests of the area.
Advocate Keith Varghese, who is associated with the case, recalled that the tribunal had on December 13, 2016 directed the panel to submit the report within four weeks but it has not been done yet.
The bench had directed the panel to submit a detailed report in relation to illegal and unauthorised felling of trees in Ramban division particularly in blocks Bhingara, Sarbagani and Pogal and village Banihal.
The plea has alleged that certain persons had resorted to indiscriminate felling of trees from the area for their trade in timber and other valuables and the encroachers had been indiscriminately cutting and removing valuable dheodar and kail trees, exclusively in this forest.
“This erosion of the forest cover has caused the destruction of the forest in the area and would adversely affect the environment, eco-system, the plants and animals living within the forests. This has further resulted in drastic changes in the environment and the quality of life of people living in and around the forests,” it said.
It has also sought identification of officers responsible for dereliction of duty and those who colluded with the encroachers. (PTI)