Tribunal seeks report from forest department over biodiversity park

The NGT issued a notice to the forest department on Friday seeking an explanation on all charges made by the residents and activists who filed the plea before it.

cities Updated: Sep 01, 2018 05:39 IST
Residents have been protesting against the felling of trees at the city forest in Sector 91, where the park is proposed(HT File Photo)

During the hearing of the case against the biodiversity park being developed by the Noida authority in Sector 91, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directed the forest department to submit a report on the matter.

The NGT has issued a notice to the forest department seeking an explanation on all charges made by the residents and activists who filed the plea before it.

According to activists, who have been protesting against the construction of the biodiversity park, the felling of 3,000 trees in the area is in violation of environment laws and is also causing a loss of habitat to several animals and birds, including the nilgai (blue bull).

“The court has taken the matter seriously and has asked the forest department to respond. We explained how a natural forest area and its ecosystem were being disturbed. We have asked that the area not be concreted and that it remain a city forest, as per the initial plans,” Vikrant Tongad, environment activist, said.

He said since the Noida authority has already mentioned, through newspaper reports, that no more trees are being cut in the area, a stay was not granted on further felling of trees.

The Noida authority master plan 2021 mentioned that the 75 acre area in Sector 91 will be a city forest. This was changed in the master plan 2031 and the area was demarcated as a biodiversity park. Residents now want the initial plan of the city forest to continue, in view of the increasing pollution level in Noida and the need for more trees to improve air quality.

Residents contested that felling of trees to create the park will disturb the existing biodiversity, defeating the very purpose of having such a park. In addition, the creation of an amphitheatre, food court and golf tracks will further disturb the biodiversity.

Meanwhile, the forest department has conducted a tree census and is awaiting the report.

“We are waiting for the official order, but our lawyer has informed that the NGT has asked for a report on the felling of trees. We are examining the matter and will submit the report soon,” P K Srivastava, divisional forest officer, said.

According to the appeal made by Tongad, the respondents have failed in their duty of preservation of environment and ecology as defined in the Uttar Pradesh Tree Protection Act, 1976, by allowing the illegal activity.

It adds that a notification dated July 20, 2012, clearly states that seven tree species, including neem, cannot be felled till December 31, 2020. However, two neem trees were cut during the felling of eucalyptus trees in the area, following which the forest department had filed a
complaint.

According to the authority’s plans, several biomes will be recreated in the park, replicating a flower petal. The biodiversity park will also have an amphitheatre, outdoor exhibition space, miniature picnic gardens, five kilometre-long jogging tracks, three kilometre-long golf cart track and two-stepped water bodies. Around one lakh trees will also be planted in the area, including over 5,000 native ones, and around one lakh shrubs, plants and ornamental plants.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 05:39 IST