5 December 2022

Dehradun : Quoting news reports that over 6,000 trees were felled in Corbett Tiger Reserve ( CTR ) for construction of the Pakhro Tiger Reserve ” when the state had sought permission to cut only 163 “, the NGT has ordered that the project be stopped.

The green court has constituted a three-member committee comprising the DG of the state forest department, the DG of the state wildlife department, and the DG, of Project Tiger, to identify those responsible for the violation and recommend steps to ” restore the environment at Corbett “.

NGT has asked the senior-level probe panel to submit its report ” with specific recommendations to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change ( MoEFCC ) within a month.

Stop CTR safari project,
Stop CTR safari project,

The state announced the Pakhro project in 2019, saying it would ” ensure 100 % chance of tiger sighting as the big cats would be kept in enclosures “. Soon after, it sought permission from the MoEFCC, saying around 163 trees would need to be chopped for the tiger safari. In 2021, activists flagged rampant illegal tree-cutting in the Pakhro region of Corbett for the project. In a complaint to the National Tiger Conservation Authority ( NTCA ), a petitioner said ” thousands of trees are being illegally felled inside CTR and illegal trading of trees is taking place “Following this, the then head of forest force ( Hoff ), Rajiv Bhartari , reached out to the Forest Survey of India ( FSI ) after reports compiled by forest authorities ” couldn’t ascertain facts “. Both the NTCA and the then director of Corbett recommend that the FSI do a ” thorough survey “. The FSI started its ground survey in June this year.

On October 1, the director general of FSI. Anoop Singh presented a copy of its report titled ‘ Illegal felling of trees for the establishment of Pakhrau Ti ger Safari ‘ to the central empowered committee of the Supreme Court.

It said, ” a total ( of ) 6,093 trees were cut to clear 40 acres of forest land “. On October 21, NGT took note of news articles that reported this and said “illegality in the cutting of trees is clearly acknowledged ” and ” thus, accountability needs to be fixed for such violations and damage to the environment restored ” It added: ” Till then ( till the time the three-member committee submits its report to the MoEFCC ), the project may not be allowed to proceed . NGT has also directed MoEFCC to file an ” action taken report ” on or by January 31, 2023.

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