NGT seeks explanation from Assam on diversion of forest land for police battalion - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

NGT seeks explanation from Assam on diversion of forest land for police battalion

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Jan 25, 2024 06:47 PM IST

NGT observed there are allegations that the Assam government’s top forest officials had illegally diverted 44 hectares of protected forest land for a Commando Battalion headquarters in Barak Valley

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought an explanation from the Assam Forest Department and the district magistrate (DM) of Hailakandi on an alleged diversion of 44 hectares of protected forest to set up the Assam Police’s Commando Battalion in Hailakandi.

The protected forest is located near the Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi district. (Representative Image)
The protected forest is located near the Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi district. (Representative Image)

Based on some media reports published in December last year, NGT registered the suo moto case earlier this month. The principal bench of NTG, headed by justice Prakash Srivastava and Dr. A Senthil Vel heard the case on January 23.

The suo moto cognizant was taken against the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC), Assam Forest Department and DM of Hailakandi.

Representatives of the inspector general of MoEF & CC and the Assam forest department attended the hearings, but Hailakandi DM missed it. The tribunal has asked all the respondents to submit their explanation on February 15, 2024.

The protected forest is located near the Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi district. During a cabinet meeting in July 2022, the Assam Government decided to establish six new Commando Battalions across the state, one of these will be in Hailakandi.

The tribunal stated there are allegations that the Assam government’s top forest officials had illegally diverted 44 hectares of protected forest land for a Commando Battalion headquarters in Barak Valley. Senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer MK Yadava is named as the prime accused.

“The permission was granted for construction of the 2nd Assam Commando Battalion Unit headquarter inside the Inner Line of Reserved Forest in Hailakandi district by passing the mandatory procedures under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, as per reports,” Tribunal wrote.

Last year, an environmental activist filed a complaint with MoEF&CC with the same allegations.

The environmental activist highlighted that the mentioned Inner Line Reserved Forest was established in 1877 on a total area of 1,10,000-hectares.

“This area is known for its rich biodiversity, including endangered species like the Hoolock gibbon, slow loris, and clouded leopard. The forest also serves as a crucial habitat for elephants, tigers, and a variety of birdlife,” the activist said.

The tribunal also mentioned the same during its hearing. Taking reference of the Supreme Court’s 2021 order on Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation vs Ankita Sinha & Ors case, the tribunal said, “In the circumstance of the case, we deem it proper to implead the respondents concerned in the matter.”

HT reached out to IFS MK Yadava and Hailakandi DM Nisarg Hivare Gautam for reactions on this, but both of them refused to speak.

However, the counsel appearing for PCCF, Assam during the tribunal’s hearing said that they have submitted their reply. The tribunal has asked the officials to place it on record.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On