The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed a private solar energy company, which has illegally chopped off 250 protected Khejri trees for a proposed solar plant in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district, to plant 10 times the number of trees cut by them. NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar-headed bench, after going through the report of a fact-finding committee, held AMP Energy Green Four Pvt Ltd accountable for the illegal cutting of trees under section 15 of the NGT Act.
"We have considered the report and find no reason not to accept the same," the green court averred in the report.
"..It (AMP Ltd) may plant at least 10 times the trees in the adjoining area to the satisfaction of the Forest Department, in default deposit a sum of Rs 2 lakh with the said department to be used for afforestation. It is further held liable to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh on the pattern of net present value of environmental services foregone forever, to be deposited with the District Magistrate, Jodhpur within one month to be spent for restoration of environment as per District Environment Plan of the District. In default, the District Magistrate, Jodhpur may recover the amount by coercive means..," the recent order read.
The issue came to light following the media report that the solar plant proposed at Badi Sid region, Tehsil Phalodi, Jodhpur District, Rajasthan will result in the illegal chopping of thousands of trees without adequate afforestation measures and requisite clearance taken from the Forest Department.
Accordingly, a joint panel was formed and in its report, the State Pollution Control Board confirmed chopping down of 250 trees in the 3200 bigha land that has been taken on lease by the private company.
The committee report pointed out that as per the report provided by them from the office of the Tehsildaar, about 250 nos of Khejri trees were chopped down, without permission from any competent authorities. The chopped trees were then buried inside the same land premises.
As Khejri (Scientific Name- Prosopis Cineraria) is the State tree of Rajasthan, hence sentiments of the nearby villagers got hurt upon its chopping and agitation aroused, the report pointed out.
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First Published: Oct 24 2022 | 1:56 PM IST