National Green Tribunal passes interim order after taking suo motu cognisance of newspaper report

Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, on Friday was restrained by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench, from felling trees on its campus until further orders.

The NGT passed the interim order after taking suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report published on December 28 highlighting the alleged felling of trees by IIT-M.

The Bench comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member Prof. R. Nagendran said from the reading of the report, it could be seen that IIT-M was handed over forest land in the 1950s with a condition that not more than 15 per cent of the forest should be cleared for the purpose of construction. But the condition had already been breached.

It also stated that for the purpose of new infrastructure facilities proposed by the institution, thousands of trees had been cut in the past and more trees might be cut in the future too.

Stating that the felling of thousands of trees could have caused irreparable damage to the environment, the Bench added that further damage should not be allowed. If trees were felled without proper sanction, the action had to be termed as illegal.

The Bench said, “The Tribunal is able to notice a prima facie case which warrants immediate intervention by granting an interim injunction restraining authorities of IIT, Madras, from cutting or felling trees on IIT campus until further orders.”

The Bench ordered notice to the director, IIT-M, secretary environment and forests, principal chief conservator forests and member secretary of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).

The registry was directed to send copies of the order to them along with notices for appearance.

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