NGT Pulls Up Odisha Govt For Tree Felling In Jhinkaragadi Forest
Bhubaneswar: In the wake of rampant felling of thousands of trees in Jhinkaragadi forest in Balarampur village in Dhenkanal district on November 17, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday directed the Odisha government to file an affidavit.
The Tribunal, while hearing a petition filed by a person, ruled that the felling of the trees in the forest has been done in gross violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. While directing the state government to file an affidavit in two weeks, the Tribunal said that the next hearing of the case will be on January 21.
It may be recalled that the district administration had felled thousands of trees in Jhinkaragadi forest in the presence of six platoons of police despite protests by the villagers. Police had detained 20 women protesters and registered cases against them.
As the incident triggered a statewide uproar with the Opposition going hammer and tongs against the decision of the state government in the State Assembly, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ordered a RDC probe into the incident and announced the cancellation of the proposed brewery plant by the P&A Bottler in the area where the trees were cut.
A week after the incident, Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray on November 24 had informed the Odisha Assembly that the Dhenkanal Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) had ordered the felling of trees in Jhinkaragadi forest near Balarampur village on August 24.
Replying during an adjournment motion notice brought by the Congress over the issue, he had said that IDCO had allotted 12.05 acres of barren land in Jhinkaragadi forest to the P&A Bottler company to set up its brewery plant
The minister had further said that the IDCO CGM had sought permission from the DFO on June 30 for felling of trees in the forest for the proposed plant, while the latter on August 24 had given the order to cut trees on 10.59 acres of land inside the forest. Following the order, a total of 956 small and big trees were felled.