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NGT corners state for dilly-dallying on private forests

NT NETWORK

Panaji

The National Green Tribunal has asked the state government to pay a penalty of Rs 10,000 per day (retrospectively starting from July 1) for its failure to submit a  report on identification and demarcation of private forests in Goa.

At a hearing on August 8,  the green court granted three months to complete the exercise.

The green watchdog asked the state to first deposit performance guarantee of Rs 1 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board, and pay the cumulative amount of the penalty within two weeks.

The NGT also clarified that no further extension of time will be granted, and failure to complete the exercise within three months will entail forfeiture of the performance guarantee and further penalty of Rs 50 lakh.

It asked the Chief Secretary to ensure that the order is complied with expeditiously within the prescribed time, listing the matter for hearing on December 10.

The NGT had ordered the state to conduct a scientific exercise to identify its private forestlands.

Taking serious cognisance of the failure, the NGT on December 6, 2018 had directed the state to ensure that the work of the committee was  completed by March 31, 2019; and in case of  failure to do so, a penalty of Rs 10,000 per day from April 1, 2019 onwards would have  to be paid by the state government till the day the committee submitted its report. 

This was followed by an order on April 3, 2018 by which the requirement of payment of penalty was made effective only after June 30.

In November 2018, the NGT had been  informed that a committee was  in fact constituted  on January 7, 2016. But  it had not completed the work and, therefore, more  time was sought.

“In our view, the time already taken by the committee was sufficient and a report ought to have been submitted by now,” the court had observed.

The tribunal had then directed the Chief Conservator of Forests to appear before it on the next date of hearing –  December 6, 2018 – so as to explain the work already done by the committee and the reason for which the same could not be completed after the lapse of three years.

During the course of hearing, the court was informed that the post of Chief Conservator of Forest had been vacant.

The respondent informed that after passing of the order in  2016 the committee was reconstituted only on April 23, 2018. It was further submitted that whatever time was available to the committee much work had been done and they intended  to complete the work by  March 31, 2019.

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