Courts Update NGT admits plea seeking directions to Centre, others on...

NGT admits plea seeking directions to Centre, others on preservation of Eastern and Western Ghats

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New Delhi, May 20 (ILNS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today admitted an application, seeking direction to the Centre and other Respondents, to set up a permanent body for safeguarding and preserving the Biological, Environmental and Natural status of Western and Eastern Ghats.

The Main Bench, comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, Sudhir Agarwal, M Sathyanarayanan, Brijesh Sethi and Expert Member Nagin Nanda, issued notice to the Union government and other Respondents on the application, filed by Advocate Santha Kumar and Practicing Advocate & political activist KS Radha Krishnan. Senior Advocate R Balasubramanian appeared for Mr Radhakrishnan.

The petition sought the NGT to direct the Respondents to take effective, Science-based action for the preservation of Western and Eastern Ghats by due formation of a permanent body, on the basis of Madhav Gadgil and Kasthuri Rangan Committee recommendations and to implement and execute the same in its true spirit.

The application further prayed to the NGT to take cognisance on a leading and emerging environmental issue and direct the respondents to take effective measures to prevent huge encroachment in water bodies, coupled with destroying of forest wealth.

Further directions were sought to the Respondents to formulate and place on record a strategy/scheme to prevent the Western Ghats and to file its report before the NGT.

The application submitted that most reserved forest areas in Western and Eastern Ghats have been protected by the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Tamil Nadu Hill Areas (Preservation of Trees) Act, 1955 is in force in certain parts of these hills, but not implemented effectively in the absence of popular support.

As a result, the protection of trees in private holdings has become a challenge. By making use of the loopholes in the Act and other Government Rules, trees are felled and removed clandestinely. These activities have made the hills of Eastern Ghats barren, its streams have run dry and the biodiversity is disappearing gradually, noted the petition.

The Applicant alleged that an aromatic and valuable tree like Sandal is removed illegally and such uncontrolled removing, which results in ecological imbalance, is being faced in these regions.

It said despite the Wildlife Protection Act, hunting takes place in some pockets. Forests are getting degraded because of the illicit collection of fire wood, illicit grazing and illicit felling of trees. Indiscriminate destruction of forests has increased human-animal conflict in recent years.

Water scarcity and a threat to habitats drive animals to cultivated lands and human habitations in search of food and water. Untreated sewage and plastic waste have degraded the environment. “Only if the people realise the importance of a clean environment and cooperation with local administration, the natural resources can be protected,” the application read.

The applicant further submitted that despite various initiatives to protect biodiversity of the Eastern Ghats for the same being on paper, there seems to be no practical implementation or pressing into operation about the dire necessity of preservation and ecological balance, coupled with proper management.

Violation of the duties cast upon the authority, which has been specifically assigned to cater to the needs in general and to save and maintain these natural sources, in having failed to discharge the obligations cast upon the competent respective authority, it added. ILNS/SHV/RJ

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