NGT raps govt over delay in identification, demarcation of private forest

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NT NETWORK

Panaji

The National Green Tribunal has rapped the state government over delay in identification and demarcation of the remaining private forest areas in the state.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice A K Goel granted three months time for implementing the order dated October 12, 2018 with a warning that coercive measures, may be taken, if the concerned officers do not behave responsibly.

“The entire exercise be completed positively within three months and the final report may be uploaded on the website for information of the concerned parties,” the bench said while allowing the applicant to take further remedies for any more grievances in accordance with law.

The NGT had earlier directed the government to notify an area of 46.11 square kilometres as ‘private forest’ bringing to close a more than two-decade old issue however, during recent hearing it was pointed out that the remaining work still remains incomplete in terms of 2018 order, though the Tribunal had fixed the outer time limit of March, 2019 for the purpose.

The green panel said that more than two years have passed but the order has not been complied and the lawyer for the government submitted that exercise will require one year time.

“We find the statement to be ridiculous and lack sense of responsibility since the Tribunal, by order passed more than two years ago required the whole exercise to be completed by March, 2019”.

The state government had constituted a committee on January 21, 2020 to submit report by March 3, 2020 on review of earlier reports prepared by Thomas and Araujo committees. For this purpose, public notice was issued on July, 15 2020 and time to file objections was extended till August 31, 2020 on the grounds of COVID-19 pandemic.

However the court observed that objections have still not been finalised, which according to the applicant, the remaining work would not take more than one month to complete and the delay is unjustified and prejudicing the public interest.

“Thus, it is difficult to brush aside the contention of the applicant that the attitude of the state authorities is to deliberately delay the compliance of orders of this tribunal for indefinite period, defeating the public interest,” the bench said.