It is in violation of tribunal's interim stay order

Felling of trees in parts of the district for installation of power transmission line towers from the coal-based thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) has raised the hackles of farmers and environmentalists.

The district unit of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and Nandikur Janajagriti Samiti (NJS) have argued that Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) is felling trees in the Bolakodi forest area in violation of the interim stay order issued by the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, on February 13.

Secretary of NJS Jayant Kumar has said that in an appeal by his organisation, the Tribunal granted an interim stay ordering the respondents – Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, (MoEF), the State Government, and KPTCL – not to fell trees on the land in question. Even as the case was being heard by the Tribunal, trees were felled in the Bolakodi forest area in violation of the order on March 1 and 2.

“The Deputy Commissioner, the Forest Department, and KPTCL should take responsibility for this violation. There is an attempt to fell over four lakh trees for the dedicated transmission lines from Nandikur to Shantigrama in Hassan district, which passes through the Western Ghats. We will decide the future course of action in two days,” Mr. Kumar has said.

President of Inna unit of KRRS Prashanth Shetty has said that nearly 150 workers were employed for felling trees on March 2. When local people and representatives of KRRS reached the spot, the workers ran away. “Felling of trees is illegal, especially when the order of the Tribunal is in force till March 7,” he has said. “This is a clear case of contempt of court. We will urge the Tribunal to take action against the officials who allowed felling of trees,” president of the district unit of KRRS Vijaykumar Hegde has said.

An officer in the Moodbidri Forest Range of the Department of Forests, under which the area comes, told The Hindu that the land under question was not a reserve forest. It was revenue land on which the department had planted acacia saplings in 1984. After receiving a complaint from the local people, officials from the department went to the spot on March 2. They found that 91 trees, including 87 acacia, two wild jack, and two jaggery palm trees, had been felled. “We immediately registered an FIR against the accused, Deepak, under whose supervision trees were felled, and the matter is now in court,” he said.

“If they have felled trees, it is wrong. Action will be taken against the contractor concerned. I have told the Deputy Conservator of Forests to take action. They should have waited till March 7,” Deputy Commissioner M.T. Reju has said.

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