Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 20:
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has served notices to the Odisha government and Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change seeking action taken report (ATR) within four weeks on the felling of trees for four laning of State Highway 10 (Sambalpur- Rourkela-around 162km long) without forest clearance.
The NGT while admitting a petition filed by Durga Kishan of Laing village in Rajgangpur block in Sundergarh district issued the notices to secretary Forest and Environment department, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Odisha, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Rourkela and secretary, MoEF, Government of India seeking ATR on construction work, tree felling and forest clearance within four weeks.
The environment watchdog has fixed the next date of hearing in the matter for April 25.
The counsellor for the petitioner Sankar Prasad Pani, argued that no construction and tree felling is allowed even in non-forest land without prior approval of Central government under Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act 1980.
Construction of the project is ongoing for more than one and half year and the Road and Building divison Sundergarh have submitted the application for diversion of 39 hectares of forest land which is pending with the Central government. Further if the diversion is allowed then around 10,262 trees will be felled on both the sides and applicant has alleged around 60 trees were felled in Laing and Dhelua mouza, Pani contended.