Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding absence of regulatory mechanism for cutting trees, Haryana, 01/07/2022

  • 01/07/2022

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Green Earth Vs Dy. Commissioner, Kurukshetra & Others dated 01/07/2022.

The applicant filed the application for issuance of directions to the concerned authorities not to cut any tree standing in Jyotisar Tirth, Kurukshetra and to ensure de-concretization of roots of trees and no hoarding and wire/cable on trees. The applicant has submitted that about 24 trees of indigenous species - which were planted by former Prime Minister Guljari Lal Nanda and the Chief Minister Haryana Bansi Lal, are standing in Krishana Vatika, Jyotisar Tirth, Jyotisar, Kurukshetra since the 1970s.

The Tourism Department of Haryana and Kurukshetra Development Board tried to cut the trees, April 14, 2022. The representatives of the applicant and residents of Jyotisar Tirth have opposed the move of cutting of full grown green trees.

The Kurukshetra Development Board informed the court that there is an approved project of 2016 - Development of Tourism Infrastructure at places related to Mahabharata in Kurukshetra including “Jyotisar Tirth, Jyotisar, Kurukshetra” under Krishna Circuit Phase-I of Swadesh Darshan Scheme which involves providing facilities to pilgrims and tourists. Seven trees are proposed to be cut out of which two are dry. 70 trees of same species will be planted.

Main contention raised on behalf of the applicant is that proposed cutting of full-grown trees ignore the environmental concerns and no approval has been granted by any authority for the same. It is undisputed that no permission has been granted for cutting of trees by any competent authority.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that "there is no regulatory mechanism in Haryana on the pattern of Delhi Tree Preservation Act, 1994 and thus, no permission for cutting trees outside forest area is required."

NGT said that it is difficult to accept that trees should be allowed to be cut without any regulation or approval. "If there is no regulatory mechanism, the State is bound by public trust doctrine to lay down an appropriate regulatory mechanism on the subject," the NGT order, July 1, 2022 said.

The Green Bench directed the Chief Secretary, Haryana to look into the matter and if no regulation exists, the same should be laid down within a month. Regulatory mechanism must be complied before cutting the trees in question and an action taken report filed by September 9, 2022.