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Private forest report: no HC relief to Goa govt

Panaji: The High Court of Bombay at Goa has refused relief to the Goa government on fines imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for not submitting report on private forests.

The state government has withdrawn a writ petition filed before the High Court with liberty to file a statutory appeal in a case related to its challenge to the NGT order levying a fine of Rs 10,000 per day on the government for not being able to produce its report on private forests within the time stipulated by the NGT.

The High Court wanted to know why the state government was not submitting the report. The Advocate General (AG) replied that it conflicted with the natural justice of landowners. The AG claimed that only Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) can levy such fines and that the NGT had no power to do so.

The High Court, however, insisted that the government should have complied with the NGT order. “Now they were already late. They could have appealed the order,” the court said. “In fact, we should examine whether the state should pay or the officers responsible should pay the fine,” the court said.

In its recent order on the completion of identification and demarcation of private forests in the state, the NGT had deplored the state government’s request for further extension of time.

By its recent order, the NGT had imposed a performance guarantee amount of Rs 1 crore, to be paid within two weeks to the Central Pollution Control Board. A fine of Rs 10,000 per day has already started accumulating from July 1, 2019, till the date of filing of the report.

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