NGT seeks report on tree felling in J&K

The National Green Tribunal has directed a committee formed by it to file a comprehensive report regarding alleged unauthorised felling of large number of trees in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar asked the panel to file report by March 22, the next date of hearing after the Chief Conservator of Forest of the area sought some time to visit the site. The Chief Conservator of Forest, who was present in the hearing, said the committee held a meeting yesterday but the area has been covered with thick layer of snow due to which they could not visit the site. To this, the tribunal observed, “The way you people are working, don’t worry you will get snow there in June also. The climate change will result in all this.” “File a comprehensive report by the next date of hearing,” the bench said. The bench had earlier 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. 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. 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 deodar 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.

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