Bhubaneswar: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has warned the Khurda District Magistrate and Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of civil imprisonment for not complying with the earlier order of the tribunal.
This comes after the Khurda Collector and DFO failed to submit an inspection report even after one year of the NGT order. The tribunal has now given one last chance to furnish the report before proceeding with exemplary actions.
The case relates to use of forest land near Jaydev Vihar in Bhubaneswar by many reputed
hotels and commercial establishments for non-forest use and the alleged inaction of the government machinery.
The tribunal in its order said that the inspection report had not been filed by the Inspection Committee in terms of order dated May 20, 2019 although time had been sought for the purpose August 30, 2019, November 25, 2019 and January 20, 2020.
“In view of the continued non-compliance, we are of the view that appropriate coercive orders are called for against the members of the committee namely, the District Collector and Divisional Forest Officer, Khurda district, but before we do so, we are inclined to grant one more opportunity to them to file the report before the next date.”
“…failing which exemplary coercive orders shall be issued against them which shall include punitive measures like cost and civil imprisonment. It may be noted that the order passed by the tribunal is enforceable as a decree and is executable in terms of Section 51 of the Code of Civil Procedure,” the written order of the NGT said.
The tribunal had May 20, 2019 asked the Collector and the DFO to take cognisance of the allegations in the case and conduct an inspection of the area in question and ascertain the genuineness of the allegations. It asked them to take action against the errant and also submit a factual and action taken report before the tribunal within two months.
A petition was filed in this regard before the NGT alleging inaction of the state government institutions for checking illegal and unauthorised use of 563.039 acres of revenue forest land for non-forestry purposes by constructing buildings, hotel and commercial establishments without getting approval under Forest Conservation Act 1980 from the Environment Ministry.
A CAG report in March 2012 had also confirmed violation of Forest Conservation Act in terms of allotting the Revenue Forest Land to various hotels and establishments without obtaining forest clearance. The next hearing of the case is posted to September 10, 2020.
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