The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today sought responses of the Centre and Haryana government on a plea against felling of dead or dry standing trees through auction by inviting tenders from private contractors.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Haryana and its various departments, seeking their replies before the next date of hearing.
The tribunal was hearing the plea of Haryali Welfare Society which is opposing the open auction of dry or dead standing trees, in the forest area of Sirsa district, on the ground that it could result in mismanagement in the felling of trees as well as contravention of the Forest (Conservation) Act.
It has sought action against the officials concerned for allowing private contractors to fell trees in violation of Supreme Court orders as well as Haryana government's forest plan for Sirsa.
The petition filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary contended that allowing private contractors to directly enter the forest area for felling trees is a complete violation of the apex court's order that all tree felling operations are to be undertaken by government departments and not by private contractors.
The petition contends that Haryana Forest Department's working plan for Sirsa clearly states that harvesting of trees would be done by two departmental agencies-Production Circle of Forest Department and Haryana Forest Development Corporation.
The society also contended that according to the National Forest Policy felling or cutting of trees is not to be done by private contractors but only by institutions such as tribal and labour cooperatives or government corporations.
It also alleged that trees that were to be felled were not marked by the territorial department and neither were lot numbers allotted by the conservator of forests.