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National Green Tribunal issues notice to Centre on plea to preserve Western, Eastern Ghats

The Petitioner has further prayed to the NGT to take the cognizance on a leading and emerging environmental issue and to direct the respondents to take effective measures to prevent huge encroachment in the water bodies coupled with destroying of forest wealth.

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The National Green Tribunal issued notice to the Centre on a petition to preserve the Western and Eastern Ghats by constituting a permanent body on the basis of recommendations made by the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan Committees, and to implement and execute the same in their true spirit.

The petitioner further prayed to the NGT to take the cognizance on a leading and emerging environmental issue and to direct the respondents to take effective measures to prevent huge encroachment in the water bodies coupled with destroying of forest wealth. Further directions has been sought to the Respondents to formulate and place on record strategy/scheme to prevent the Western Ghats and to file its report before the NGT.

The application has been filed by Advocate and political activist K. S. Radha Krishnan which submitted that most reserve forest areas in Western and Eastern Ghats have been protected by the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Tamil Nadu Hill Areas (Preservation of Trees) Act, 1955 is in force in certain parts of these hills, but it is not implemented effectively in the absence of popular support. As a result, the protection of trees in private holdings has become a challenge. By making use of the loopholes in law, trees are felled and removed clandestinely. These activities have made the hills of the Eastern Ghats barren, its streams have run dry and the biodiversity is disappearing gradually.

It is alleged by the applicant that an aromatic and valuable tree like sandalwood trees are removed illegally and such uncontrolled removal has resulted in the ecological imbalance faced in these regions. Despite the Wildlife Protection Act, hunting takes place in some pockets. The forests are getting degraded because of the illicit collection of fire wood, illicit grazing and illicit felling of trees. Indiscriminate destruction of forests has increased human-animal conflict in recent years. Water scarcity and a threat to habitats drive animals to cultivated lands and human habitations in search of food and water. Untreated sewage and plastic waste have degraded the environment.

“Only if the people realize the importance of a clean environment and cooperation with local administration, the natural resources can be protected,” the application reads.

The applicant further submitted that despite various initiatives to protect biodiversity of the Eastern Ghats on paper, there seems to be no practical implementation or pressing into operation about the dire necessity of preservation and ecological balance coupled with proper management. Violation of the duties cast upon the authority who has been specifically assigned to cater to the needs in general and to save and maintain these natural sources, in having failed to discharge the obligations cast upon the competent respective authority.

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The Main Bench Comprised of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel , Sudhir Agarwal, M. Sathyanarayanan, Brijesh Sethi and Expert Member Nagin Nanda issued notice to the Union and the other respondents, the pollution control boards of several states.

It is pertinent to note that application is filed by Advocate Santha Kumar and Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian appeared for K. S. Radhakrishnan.

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