The Central Government has today informed the Supreme Court that the widening of road on an existing 20 km stretch of NH-72A between Ganeshpur and Dehradun is required due to the ongoing problems at the northern border with China, in a petition over the issue of felling of trees in the area which is a wildlife-rich area.
The information was given by the Attorney General during the hearing of a PIL challenging the Stage-I Forest Clearance (FC) and wildlife clearance granted for the improvement and expansion of the road. The plea has challenged the felling of trees and clearance for the same stating that it is a wildlife-rich area.
The bench had earlier refused to hear the matter and directed the petitioner to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
A divisional bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice BV Nagarathna noted that a Miscellaneous Application is filed by the Central Government and thus posted the matter to be listed together upon consideration of the Chief Justice of India after Diwali.
Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted regarding this that, "The Defence is interested in this as the widening of roads is required because of the problem being faced at the Northern Border with China."
Advocate Ritwick Dutta appearing for the petitioner Citizens for Green Doon responded saying, "Milords, we are only concerned with felling of trees."
Earlier, the Court had asked the petitioners to approach the National Green Tribunal in this regard. However, Dutta submitted that they had approached the NGT but the NGT asked them to approach it only when there is an order from an authority of the State Government regarding the felling.
He then informed Court that the trees are being felled every day.
The NGT in its order had said, "Undoubtedly, cutting of even a single tree is a matter of concern. Having regard to ecological services of the trees, all efforts have to be made to protect every tree. At the same time, in certain situations, cutting of trees is permissible under the law, with the requisite approval of the statutory authorities, subject to compliance of the statutory conditions, following all necessary safeguards, including afforestation and translocation wherever possible. In the present case, order granting FC lays down necessary conditions. No violation thereof is alleged."
The petition before the Supreme Court said, "The project is actually composed of an elevated road from Ganeshpur to Daat Kali Tunnel, and this portion does not in fact improve any existing road but is an entirely new construction of an elevated tunnel involving hill cutting."
The bench said that we'll have to hear both the matters together as decisions in both matters will overlap, and posted the matters immediately after Diwali.
The petition has been filed through Advocate Srishti Agnihotri.
Cause Title: Citizens For Green Doon Vs. Union of India & Ors.
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