Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding cutting of trees for a tiger safari project, Corbett Tiger Reserve, 17/04/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In re : news item published in the Newspaper The Hindu dated 02.10.2022 titled “Over 6,000 trees illegally cut for tiger safari project in Corbett Reserve, says FSI report” dated 17/04/2023.
The matter has been taken up suo motu by the Tribunal in the light of captioned media report to the effect that 600 trees have been illegally cut in Corbett Tiger Reserve in Kalagarh Tiger Reserve Division in Uttrakhand. It is further stated that the Forest Survey of India (FSI) was asked to assess the status of illegally felled trees.
The report filed by DG, FSI dated September 6, 2022 titled “Illegal felling of trees for the establishment of Pakhrau Tiger Safari, Uttarakhand” showed that there was illegality in cutting of trees.
A three member committee comprising DG, Forest Department, ADG, Wildlife Department and ADG, Project Tiger filed its report. The report said that there has been felling of trees more than the stipulated number of 163 in the approval for the Tiger Safari. Works were started without Stage II approval under Forest Conservation Act 1980.
The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Sudhir Agarwal of the NGT noted that the committee report has said that not only was cutting of trees illegal but the process of restoration required the construction made without approval of central government to be removed. However, the Principal Secretary, Uttarakhand has submitted that constructions do not require approval of the Central Government. The court said that "prima facie, it appears to be difficult to accept the stand of the Principal Secretary, Uttarakhand".
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) was directed to file an action taken report in the matter before July 19, 2023.