The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday banned the Punjab government from cutting trees for any project without its permission.
The orders came after the tribunal clubbed two petitions seeking protection for the state’s green cover. Pronouncing the orders, Justice Swatanter Kumar said there was indiscriminate cutting of trees in Punjab for widening roads and canal banks.
At many places, trees were even being axed without forest clearance. Further, there was no effort made for transplantation or compensatory afforestation.
He made a specific reference to mindless axing of trees in Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts based on media reports produced during the court hearing and observed that there was unscientific removal of trees.
The petitions were filed by Chandigarh- based Peacock Environment & Wild Life Protection Society and Sangrur-based Dr Amandeep Aggarwal.
Besides imposing ban on tree cutting, the judge has also sought status report from the state government on number of trees planted by the state in the last five years and how many were cut across the state before the next date of hearing on July 8.
He directed the tree authority or a senior officer of the state government to be present before the tribunal on the next date of hearing along with the affidavit.
Besides the government has been asked produce the original records pertaining to the grant of permission for axing trees in Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts.
NGT, it is learnt, came down heavily on senior officials of the state forest department during the court proceedings.
Punjab principal chief conservator of forest Kuldeep Kumar Lomis said his department would comply with NGT directions.