Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 27
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought action taken report from the Chandigarh-based Regional Officer (North) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, regarding compliance of the statutory procedures while allowing felling of trees for development projects in Punjab.
While hearing various petitions filed in this regard, including the one pertaining to the alleged wrong claims of afforestation done along the Zirakpur-Bathinda highway, the NGT directed that the report be submitted in January next.
On the compliance report submitted by the state Forest Department during the previous hearing, the regional officer was asked to take action if illegal tree felling was found.
Objecting to the claim of the Forest Department, Dr Amardeep Aggarwal, one of the petitioners, wrote to the Regional Officer stating that the ministry was turning a blind eye to the non-compliance of the conditions laid down for obtaining environmental clearance.
Citing the status report filed by the department regarding the compensatory afforestation in Sangrur and Patiala districts that were affected due to axing of 97,000 trees in order to widen the 200-km Zirakpur-Bathinda road (NH-64), Dr Aggarwal stated that ground realty belied the department’s claims.
“The claims of compensatory afforestation by the state stand belied if one goes by the fact that Punjab is ranked 11th in the country in terms of forest cover of 2,432 sq kms,” said Dr Aggarwal.
He asked the ministry to conduct a ground check before filing the status report.
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