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Tree felling: NGT summons Punjab chief conservator of forests on Nov 24

Officer had issued orders regarding axing of trees under Punjab Land Preservation Act, despite NGT’s blanket ban on tree felling

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2017 11:37 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
National Green Tribunal,National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar,Punjab Land Preservation Act
In April 2016, the Chandigarh-based NGO Peacock Environment and Wild Life Protection Society and Dr Aggarwal of Sangrur had filed a petition before the NGT against tree cutting in Punjab.(Representative image )

National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar on Wednesday summoned state chief conservator of forests (hills) Harsh Kumar on November 24 for issuing orders regarding axing of trees under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), despite NGT’s blanket ban on tree felling.

“The NGT has banned cutting of trees in the state but Harsh Kumar issued a order for tree felling in Ropar and Mohali districts, saying the ban was mainly imposed in Nawanshahr and Jalandhar areas on state-run projects,” petitioner Amandeep Aggarwal told HT.

Punjab chief conservator of forests (hills) Harsh Kumar could not be contacted despite Hindustan Times’ repeated phone calls.

In April 2016, the Chandigarh-based NGO Peacock Environment and Wild Life Protection Society and Dr Aggarwal of Sangrur had filed a petition before the NGT against tree cutting in Punjab. The hearing in the case is nearing completion.

“Blanket ban means blanket ban. But Harsh Kumar issued orders to the forest department, observing that there is no meaning of the NGT ban in Punjab as tree felling can be done under the PLPA. He also maintained that the ban was imposed only on state-run projects and corporation works, not in private sector. When my counsel Sourav Kumar on Wednesday presented these points before the court, justice Swatanter issued summons to Kumar,” said Dr Aggarwal.

Meanwhile, Harsh Kumar could not be contacted despite HT’s repeated phone calls.

Dr Aggarwal said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has also filed an application seeking permission for felling of 3,000 trees for an elevated road in Ludhiana, but the tribunal sought report of divisional forest officers concerned over the plantation of 65,000 plants, as has been claimed.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 11:34 IST