National Green Tribunal directs DFO Shahjahanpur to file action report against erring forest officers

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the DFO (Divisional Forest Officer), Forest and Wildlife Division, Shahjahanpur to file the action taken report within three months before the Registrar General of the Tribunal indicating the outcome of the proceedings initiated against the erring forest employees/officer and also action taken for planting the trees in the in Sihura veet forest in Khutar Range, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The Principal Bench of Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Dr. A Senthil Vel disposed of a Petition registered suo-moto on the basis of the news item appearing in the daily newspaper dated 13.01.2024. 

The matter relates to alleged cutting of Koro trees in Sihura veet forest in Khutar Range, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. 

The news item revealsed that in Sihura veet of Khutar range of Shahjahanpur district, 13 Koro trees were found cut and the Chief Engineer has expressed his anger on the forest employees. The news item further reveals that on both sides of KhutarPuranpur highway, forest of Sihura veet exist and this forest is extended upto Pritampur village and the other end is extended upto Pilibhit and at a short distance of the forest there is a forest post and residential quarters of the forest employees but near the highway 13 trees have been illegally cut. The news item expresses the apprehension that the trees have been cut in collusion with the forest employees.   

The news item raises substantial issue relating to compliance of environmental norms.  

“Power of the Tribunal to take up the matter in suo-motu exercise of power has been recognized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai vs. Ankita Sinha & Ors.” reported in 2021 SCC Online SC 897.”

On advance notice the reply has been filed by the Divisional Forest Officer, Forest and Wildlife Division, Shahjahanpur confirming the news report that 13 Sal trees were felled and that a part of the illegally cut timber i.e. 6.753 cubic metre has been recovered. The report further submits that FIR has been logged under section 379, 411 of IPC on 18.01.2024 against 12 persons and one beat in-charge Forester was suspended and departmental proceedings have been initiated against him by serving the charge sheet.   

The above report does not disclose any action at the end of the forest official for carrying out the plantation in the same area from where the trees have been cut so that the area concerned is not utilized for some other purpose taking the benefit of the cutting of the treer , as observed by the NGT.

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