Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal felling of trees in Papum reserved forest, Arunachal Pradesh, 09/11/2020
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Jorjo Tana Tara Vs Union of India & Others dated 09/11/2020. The matter relates to indiscriminate felling of trees in a reserved forest area which is part of Papum Reserved Forest, and part of Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to the applicant, indiscriminate felling of trees has been taking place and, though the government authorities were aware of this, no effective steps have been taken to curb it and on account of such large scale felling there is likelihood of creating man-animal conflict threatening the survival of tigers in the area.
The NGT noted that there was hardly any progress made after the NGT order August 30, 2019. In that order, the Tribunal had pointed out "serious lacunae in the administration of the forest area by the State".
The principal difficulty expressed on behalf of the state was the shortage of manpower which the state government had proposed to increase. The court has been informed that as a first step, the state government intends to fill up the existing vacant post of the forest personnel and thereafter create over 200 post of front line staff including foresters and forest guards.
The NGT expressed its disappointment that the tribunal order of August 30, 2019 which also included the enhancement of the strength of the personnel, are yet to be complied.
The NGT directed Arunachal Pradesh to "consider taking interim measures in view of the urgency of the situation". This could include induction of retired personnel of the forest department as well as the personnel of the state police for the purpose.
The NGT suggested that the state could also consider hiring retired army personnel on contract basis for patrolling the hot spots in forest areas. The applicant had also suggested identifying hotspots where the illegalities are rampant. The state should make use of forest cover map prepared with the help of satellites imageries by Forest Survey of India, Dehradun of the very affected districts/hot spots to observe the change in forest cover that had occurred over a time period of 10 years which could be helpful in evolving an action plan to deal with the issue.
Arunanchal Pradesh was directed by the NGT to file a status report of the actions taken so far and on the directions passed by the November 9 order. The matter has been listed for hearing again January 6, 2021.