No legal shield for green cover
The green cover in the Millennium City is at risk — legally.
The section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) 1900 — which made it mandatory for a person to seek permission from the forest department and gave the department power to book offenders — expired in Gurgaon on November 27, 2012. As result, for more than a month, the administration has lost its right to fine violators, giving them a free hand at chopping tress.
What's more surprising is the fact that the Haryana government woke up from its slumber only now. Having failed to act in advance and re-notify the Act that was invoked on November 11, 1997 for a period of 15 years, the officials are now scrambling to do the needful.
"We have moved the files and sent the draft of the PLPA to the press for printing. The Act would soon be re-notified for a period of 15 years," said CP Jotriwal, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF). He, however, did not comment on the loss of trees during the period when the notification term had expired.
Also, till the formalities are completed, the forest department can not prosecute offenders. It can only slap a meagre penalty of Rs. 100 or imprisonment for one month or both under section 19 of the PLPA.
The act had been enacted for the first time in Haryana in 1990 and revised in 1997. Activities that endangered the green cover in notified areas were banned.