Saturday, September 23, 2023

Supreme Court moves final hearing of PIL seeking protection from wildfires to July

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard a petition filed by advocate Rituparn Uniyal seeking urgent steps to protect wildlife from wildfires in Uttarakhand. A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian questioned Uniyal that whether the matter is connected with some other matter before the bench. The petitioner said the plea is connected with some other matter. Then, the Bench scheduled the final hearing of the matter for July.

Uniyal had filed a petition in Supreme Court seeking wild life and forests protection from wildfires in Uttarakhand, saying forest blazes have increased over the years and cause huge loss to the environment. The petition has sought directions to the Centre, the Uttarakhand government and the principal chief conservator of forests in the state to make pre-fire arrangements and frame a policy to prevent forest fires.

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The petitioner has  also sought an investigation into the matter by an independent agency and directions to declare the animal kingdom as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.
The petitioner has submitted,

“Forest fires in Uttarakhand have been a regular and historic feature. Every year, forest fires in Uttarakhand cause great loss to the forest ecosystem, diversity of flora and fauna and economic wealth. Forest fire is one of the major disasters in the forests of Uttarakhand. Despite a consistent history of forest fires, the ignorance, inactiveness, negligence and unreadiness of the respondents (Centre, state government and chief conservator of forests) have rendered a great loss to forests, wildlife and birds in Uttarakhand and thus, caused ecological imbalance.”

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