Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding encroachment and deforestation of Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, 10/04/2024

  • 10/04/2024

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Subhas Datta Vs State of West Bengal & Others dated 10/04/2024.

The present Original Application has been filed by the Applicant appearing in person stating that in the tourist township of Darjeeling there is the ‘Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary’ popularly known as ‘Tiger Hill’ which was established sometime in 1915. It is stated that this place is not only a green zone but also a water catchment area for supplying drinking water to the whole of the Darjeeling town and adjoining areas. The allegation of the Applicant is that the topmost part of Tiger Hill has been completely concretized having concrete and steel structures.

The allegation further is that mobile connectivity towers have been set-up at Tiger Hill without any environmental permission. It is also alleged that human habitations have been added without the authority of law. It is further alleged that public convenience has been established without a proper sewage management system. It is stated that large number of tourists visit the top of Tiger Hill for viewing sun rise and sun set who use the public convenience and the human waste generated thereby pollutes the underground aquifer causing health hazards to the people of the area. It is also alleged that there is a bustee a little below the Tiger Hill where several people reside but the said Bustee does not have any sewage management system in place. It is stated that considerable plastic waste is littered all over the Tiger Hill which is also burnt at places contrary to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The allegation further is that new construction is being made on Tiger Hill which may be a Rest House or Guest House with a board mentioning ‘Forest Museum’, Sinchel, within the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary. It was also alleged that a big car parking space is being developed at Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary destroying the trees and lush green vegetation and completely changing the nature and character of the land.

The NGT directed notice to be issued to the Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Department;  Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; Government of West Bengal; West Bengal Pollution Control Board and Darjeeling Municipality. All the respondents have been directed to file their counter affidavits within four weeks. The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for May 15, 2024.