The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a penalty of Rs. 15 lakh on a former sarpanch and a gram sevak for felling 3000 trees in the forest area of a village.
The Tribunal has ordered the money to be deposited with the forest officer of the region in a month from serving of the order.
Circuit Bench of the NGT gave these orders while hearing a petition moved by villagers of Taparwada gram panchayat of Nagaur district stating that the money recovered from this penalty would be used in afforestation of the affected area.
According to the petitioners’ counsel Vishal Sharma, the then sarpanch of the panchayat Jugal Kishore and the gram sevak had felled 3000 trees in 2011 without any authority or any permission to do so, which rendered a sizable part of the village’s forest land to be tree-less.
The villagers then moved a PIL in the High Court which passed an interim order stating that no tree would be felled in the region.
The matter was, however, later referred to the NGT. During the hearing, the forest officials informed the court that neither any permission was sought from them nor the money obtained from auction of the trees was deposited in the department.
Taking this arbitrary step of the sarpanch and the gram sevak seriously, the Bench headed by justice U. D. Salvi, ordered the duo to deposit Rs.15 lakh with the forest department and also ordered the Revenue department and Rural and Panchayati Raj department to take appropriate action against them.
The Bench also ordered the Principal Secretary of the Environment & Forest department to initiate an inquiry against the concerned DFO and submit it to the bench completing the same in 3 months. - PTI