NGT stops activity on 436 acres in Bhubaneswar due to lack of forest clearing
The National Green Court has halted further activities on 436 acres of forest land in one of Bhubaneswar’s main areas that has hotels, government and corporate offices, citing a lack of forest diversion.
“In view of the recognized encroachment on forest lands and the diversion of forest lands without obtaining mandatory authorization under the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, we strongly believe that no other activity will be undertaken without before complying with the requirements of the law, ”ordered the NGT bank of justice SP Wangdi and the expert member Saibal Dasgupta referring to the 436 acres of land marked as Forest Category (Jungle II) in government records.
The NGT bank further said that if the state government allows the violation of the provisions of the Forests (Conservation) Act 1980, then the Ministry of Forests MoEF & CC can take appropriate action under the Forests (Conservation) Act ) of 1980 and the Forest (Conservation) Rules. , 2003 against those responsible for allowing such violations. He also directed the state government, the Divisional Forestry Officer and the MoEF & CC before the next hearing on February 19.
The Jan.5 order was uploaded to the NGT website on Thursday.
The NGT order came in response to a petition filed by Bhubaneswar-based activist Subash Mohapatra in 2019 challenging the state government’s inaction in verifying the illegal and unauthorized use of 568 acres of revenue forest land (Jungle II Kisam) in Khata No 1427 by Jaydev Vihar Mouza in Bhubaneswar for non-forestry purposes. Mohapatra in his petition to the NGT had said that 44 institutions had established hotels, corporate offices, a school and hospitals without requesting the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.
Hotels like Mayfair, Trident, Swosti Plaza, Sandy’s Towers, and Suryansh and offices like Tech Mahindra, Nalco, Employees Insurance Corporation, and Loyola School have popped up on these lands for the past three decades. A CAG report in 2012 had for the first time pointed out the alleged violation of the FC Law by some of these entities.
Under the Forests (Conservation) Act 1980, the Ministry of the Environment can divert forest areas for non-forest purposes. Instead of the land, the government collects money that is then used by the authorities for afforestation.
After Mohapatra submitted its petition, the NGT in May 2019 formed a committee consisting of the district harvester and the Khurda Divisional Forestry Officer to determine the veracity of their allegations and to take action in accordance with the law if it was determined that any of the alleged violations was correct. .
In its report, the committee had informed the NGT that several institutions diverted large tracts of forest land for non-forest activities without obtaining the necessary authorizations under the 1980 Forest (Conservation) Act. It also said that the state government had requested to 44 and the state government, central and state companies and private institutions located in the forest lands to present proposals for the diversion of forest lands for non-forest uses and obtain the necessary authorizations from the MoEF & CC. However, out of 44 institutions, the MoEF & CC only granted authorization to three institutions between 2014 and 2019.