Forest fires: NGT seeks reply from Uttarakhand govt


The National Green Tribunal on Friday sought response of Uttarakhand government on a plea seeking a CBI inquiry to ascertain the reason of forest fires that have raged the state having severe impact on the environment.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the state asking it to file its reply by May 10 on the plea which also sought a direction to Uttarakhand government to take appropriate steps to stop mining and soil erosion.

The petition alleged that a “nexus of timber mafia, some greedy villagers and officials” was suspected to be behind the fire incidents which have caused severe degradation of the environment.

It said that an inquiry should be ordered to be conducted by judicial authority to investigate the reason for the fire incidents and the state should be directed to ban the practice of burning of woods for road works.

“A policy may please be made to prevent such incidents of fire in future and respondent may please be directed to start massive plantation drive and ensure survival of plants and submit its report after certain intervals,” the petition, filed through advocate Sugriva Dubey, said.

It alleged that Uttarakhand government has not taken any “effective step to control the fire” due to which almost the entire hilly area was affected.

The plea claimed that more than “1,300 incidents of forest blaze have taken plan in the present season and more than 2,600 hectares of forest area has been ruined” in the state.

The tribunal had earlier on May 4 sought responses of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and governments of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on a separate plea on the issue of forest fires raging in both the states.

It had also directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file its response in the matter.

The tribunal had earlier observed that it was shocked that everybody was taking the issue of forest fires “so casually”. The Centre had claimed that situation in the state was “under control”.

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