NGO questions department’s order of cutting 3,000 trees.
New Delhi: Taking cognisance of the allegations of felling of 3,000 trees for construction of a Biodiversity Park in the forest land of Noida Sector-91, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department to submit a report on the issue.
The development of the recreational park on 75 acres land has sparked protests from environmental activists and residents of the area. A plea was filed by NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) on the cutting of trees and extracting of groundwater by Noida Authority for the construction activity without seeking permission from Central Ground Water Authority.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Ada-rsh Kumar Goel direct-ed the Gautam Budh Nag-ar Divisional Forest Offic-er (DFO) to verify the allegations levelled by the NGO.
Advocate Sanjay Upadh-yay, appearing for the NGO, told the bench that construction activity, incl-uding pathways and RCC roads, has been started at the Biodiversity Park without obtaining consent under the Section 25 and 26 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollut-ion) Act, 1974 and Section 21 of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
The NGO claimed that although the DFO granted permission to the Noida authority only for remo-val of the Eucalyptus trees, the authority ord-ered a private contractor for removal of 3000 trees of different species which is a violation of the permission granted under the UP Trees Protection Act, 1976, and hence, the permission is liable to be quashed.
The NGO has sought a prohibition on further fel-ling of trees at the Biodi-versity Park site and plantation of ten times the number of trees felled by the authority in and arou-nd the site.
Located along the Noida Expressway, the park will have an amphitheater and other concrete structures.
While the activists said that the forest provides green cover to surrounding areas and is a natural habitat for various species of wildlife, the officials of the Noida Authority said that there is no illegality involved as per the Noids Master Plan 2031.
The Eucalyptus plantati-on existing at the site whi-ch was done 28-30 years back is near the end of its life span and many of the trees have fallen off on their own, leaving large barren patches. Over 80 species of native and naturalised tree species and over 120 species of shrubs, herbs and other plants are proposed to replace the-m. The tribunal has posted the matter for consideration on November 14.