Strictures passed by NGT for illegal felling of trees at ecologically sensitive area of Western Ghats for a toll booth

National Green Tribunal: While deprecating the highhanded activities of erring officials of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), RTO, Tehasildar and RFO, without whose connivance, a large number of tree felling activity could not have been undertaken at eco-sensitive area of Banda village in Sindhudurg, NGT directed Divisional Commissioner, Kokan Division to conduct enquiry in the matter and to ensure Departmental action against the guilty officials. NGT was hearing a petition filed by a applicant whose land was acquired on account of road widening, modernization and establishment of check post at Banda. It was alleged in the petition that modernization and installation of check post would cause soil erosion, water logging and immense ecological imbalance in the area due to illegal felling of trees, illegal mining and degradation of environment. After perusal of the records, NGT observed that excessive large number of unscheduled trees have been cut down and removed by the contractor, namely, the Maharashtra Border Check Post Network Limited (MBCPNL) to whom the MSRDC had assigned the project work, so as to clear the site and no serious effort was made by the government officials to immediately intervene while such tree felling activity was going on nor serious action was taken. Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) was directed to carry out compensatory afforestation of 44, 000 trees in the concerned area by NGT. Costs of Rs. 10 lakh was also imposed upon the contractor, Maharashtra Border Check Post Network Limited (MBCPNL) for damages caused to environment. (Saiprasad Mangesh Kalyankar v. Regional Transport Officer, Application No.28 of 2014, decided on September 10, 2014)

To read the full order, refer SCCOnLine

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