Taking suo motu cognisance of a news report published in The Hindu, the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Wednesday, ordered notice to authorities to explain clearing of trees in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve Forest.

The report under the title: ‘Tribals clear forest bushes’, on Tuesday, stated that Sholiga tribals living in Mavanatham area in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve had cleared forest bushes and cut trees to expand their agricultural activities. The naturalists also had alleged that the tribals were doing so without obtaining any clearance from forest officials. Quoting naturalists, the news report said that the Supreme Court had prohibited unauthorised clearing of forests and such clearing is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1982, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Forest Rights Act. After going through the news item, the Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam, and expert member Prof. R. Nagendran said, “The Tribunal is satisfied that it is a fit case to be taken cognisance of suo motu”.

They directed the registry to take the matter on file as an application and ordered notice to the Secretary of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Principal Secretary of the State Environment and Forest Department, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to tender their explanation in this regard on November 11. The Chairman, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Erode District Collector and the Tribal Welfare Officer were added as parties in the matter.

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