Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding the proposed constructions on forest land, Jhargram, West Midnapur District, West Bengal, 30/08/2019

  • 30/08/2019

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Subhas Datta Vs State of West Bengal & Others dated 30/08/2019 regarding the proposed construction of a Medical College Hospital in Jhargram, West Midnapur District, West Bengal in a forest land measuring about 20 hectares. The land is stated to be a “Protected Forest” published in the Calcutta Gazette dated 21.06.1956 vide Notification No. 1855 dated 17.02.1956. The Applicant contends that this area is a nursery established and run by the Silvi-South Division of Forest Department where several species of Sal, Acacias, Neem etc., are being grown on experimental basis. Another area in Jhargram by the name of Kadamkanan that fall within the same forest area has been illegally occupied by felling dense Sal jungle for construction of Police Line. Neither has Forest Clearance been obtained for use of forest land for the non-forest activity nor Environmental Clearance (EC) obtained therefor.

The consequence of such large scale deforestation is stated to be deleterious to the existence of underground aquifer that gets recharged through natural process and the entire area is likely to be rendered inhabitable. The Applicant has also placed several photographs in support of his contention to demonstrate the degradation of the area since the year 2015. Google images of the area have also been filed to illustrate this.

Considering the facts and circumstances set out in the application, the Tribunal feels that there is substantial question of environment in the case. The NGT directs constitution of a Committee comprising of (i) the District Magistrate, Jhargram District, (ii) the Divisional Forest Officer, Jhargram District, (iii) the State Pollution Control Board and (iv) the Senior Officer from the Regional Office of the MoEF&CC (Eastern Zone) to jointly inspect the area in question, verify on the factual aspects set out in the application and submit a report. The State Pollution Control Board shall be the nodal agency for coordinating and for providing logistic support. In the event the facts stated in the application are found to be correct, appropriate action in accordance with law may be instituted by the concerned authorities to remedy the situation.