The National Green Tribunal today sought the Uttarakhand government’s response on a plea alleging illegal felling of around 260 trees in the high- altitude Nainital Zoo. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued a notice to the Trivendra Singh Rawat government and sought its reply before May 25.
The order came on a plea filed by NGO Friends seeking an inquiry into the alleged illegal felling of trees in Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo. It said the flora was necessary for maintaining the rainfall pattern of the eco-sensitive zone.
The plea said that despite a ban being in force by the Supreme Court which prohibits felling of green trees above 1,000 metre altitude, the state forest department has illegally chopped 260 trees.
Referring to a media report, the plea said that due to indiscriminate tree felling, the water level in Nainital lake has receded as trees like oak help in groundwater recharge.
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The plea, filed through advocate Sugriva Dubey, alleged that though the Nainital District Magistrate ordered an inquiry into the incident but the forest department did not cooperate with the ‘tehsildar’ who had been assigned the probe.
“Permission of the Forest Felling Committee, Nainital is also mandatory for lopping of branches or felling/cutting of trees in Nainital but no such approval was taken by the local forest department,” the plea claimed.
The NGO has also sought appropriate punishment to the persons responsible for the tree felling as they have acted against the order of the apex court.