On NGT directions, govt orders probe into illegal felling - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Friday, March 29, 2019

On NGT directions, govt orders probe into illegal felling


On NGT directions, govt orders probe into illegal felling

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28

On the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Punjab government has deputed Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Financial Commissioner, Taxation, MP Singh to probe the role of erring forest officers in the illegal felling of 24,777 trees under a project to widen the 800-km-long Bist-Doab canal during the SAD-BJP rule in 2016.

The NGT in its orders had held officers of the state Forest Department responsible for allowing the felling in violation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.

The Chief Secretary had been asked to appoint an inquiry officer, not below the rank of Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), to fix responsibility of the officers for the violation of the Act and take strict action. The inquiry officer has been deputed after getting clearance from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).

The tribunal had observed that a former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and a former Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Nawanshahr, deliberately ignored the fact that the trees stood in the area demarked as protected forest and it was a wilful violation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980.

The Act required the department to take permission from the Ministry of Environment. In the same order, the state government and state Forest Department have been asked to undertake compensatory afforestation on area equivalent to the forest area destructed. The cost of the afforestation has to be recovered from the Irrigation Department, the agency that widened the irrigation canal.

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