The National Green Tribunal has ordered the Divisional Commissioner of Agra to provide information regarding the trees planted in the eco-sensitive zone (Taj Trapezium Zone) near the historic monument, Taj Mahal.
The directive was given by a bench led by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. The bench has given the officer three weeks to provide the necessary data, in order to support MC Mehta, who has been appointed as the local commissioner to investigate the illegal cutting and sale of around 4000 trees in the area.
The panel has also directed Mehta to submit his final report on the truth behind the allegations before 10 July.
The panel had directed an inquiry into the alleged felling and sale of trees in the sensitive zone after coming across a media report on the same.
It had immediately issued a notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Uttar Pradesh state government.
According to the media report, a former Agra Divisional Forest Officer had allegedly cut 8,000 trees in Babarpur and around 4,000 trees in 500-metre-radius of the Taj Mahal, which is an eco-sensitive zone.
The green panel had earlier directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no unauthorised construction activity is permitted and no trees are cut in the eco-sensitive zone near the Taj Mahal.
It had also asked the state government to create a physical demarcation of the forest area and the green belt within 500 metres of the zone.
The panel had also specified that the demarcation activity would be undertaken only in the presence of a representative from Forest Survey of India and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.