The National Green Tribunal has directed the hill states to file a report on the steps taken by them to control recurring forest fires.
The bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Jawad Rahim impleaded the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal in the case.
The green tribunal issued notices to the hill states and asked them to file an affidavit stating measures taken by them with regard to National Action Plan to check forest fires, which cause considerable damage to the environment.
The process has to be done within two weeks.
The matter is now listed for next hearing on July 30.
• The tribunal was hearing a plea by NGO Friends that had alleged that a ‘nexus of timber mafia, villagers and officials’ was suspected to be behind the fire incidents, which have caused severe degradation of the environment.
• In its plea, the NGO had sought an inquiry by the judicial authority into the reasons behind the fire incidents.
• It also demanded a ban on the practice of burning wood for road work.
• The NGO further alleged that the 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 place in the present season and more than 2,600 hectares of forest area has been ruined’ in the state.
• Defending its case, the Uttarakhand government told the tribunal that a state forest fire management plan has been finalised and the details of the action taken are mentioned in the report submitted to it.