Illegal Construction Threatens Green Pockets in Kaliasot-Kerwa Tiger Zone | Bhopal News - Times of India (2024)

Bhopal: Even as

green activists

celebrate stalling of housing project for VVIPs in the heart of the city — Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar —

rampant cutting of trees

in Chandanpura on the outskirts of the city in the proximity to Kaliasot-Kerwa dams continues to give them sleepless nights.
Environment activist

Rashid Noor Khan, who has shot fresh letters to district collector and DFO, Bhopal, seeking their intervention in stopping cutting of trees in the area which may lay bare the green land in the area, while talking to TOI, said, “There was a dense forest in the area, which is depleting and depleting over a period of time, but in the recent past I saw several felled trees in the area as the construction work has started in a big way — farm houses, resorts — it’s all being constructed and the trees are being felled without permission as required under Forest Conservation Act, 1980, as it's ‘deemed forest’ as defined by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had declared it as ‘deemed forest’ and asked the forest department to carry out mapping of the area so that the number of trees in the area are counted and they are protected.

It’s parcels of private land owned by individuals and institutions but they can also not cut the trees without requisite permission as they are doing.”

Illegal Construction Threatens Green Pockets in Kaliasot-Kerwa Tiger Zone | Bhopal News - Times of India (2)

Khan said that because the land belongs to individuals, he can’t get into their property but of late, he has counted at least 100 felled trees in the area following which he lodged a complaint. “It’s not a question of trees and greenery alone but the area also comes under ‘tiger corridor’ of Bhopal where tigers and their cubs frequently move around,” he said.

In fact, on a petition filed by Khan, NGT, central zone, had asked the regional officer, MOEF, to visit the site and look into the complaint of tree felling. In its report as quoted in the NGT order in June, 2020, the regional officer, MOEF based at Bhopal, said, “The inspection found the allegations absolutely true. A track of forest area, even if not notified, but most certainly constituting deemed forest, was being quietly prepared for some non-forestry activity by clearing the trees and the bushes. To the utter dismay and shock of the undersigned a number of sign boards and fences were seen in the midst of dense forest areas proclaiming these pieces of land to be under private ownership. Private though these may be, however, no non-forestry activity can be carried out on any of such deemed forest areas without the permission under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. We suspect it to be otherwise as per the details contained in our earlier report dated Oct 8, 2018 submitted to the NGT. It is our well-considered view that a vast track of deemed forest area lying between Kaliasot and Kerva dams is being used for non-forestry activities without any permission under the Forest Conservation Act. Most importantly, it is a vital tiger habitat of the state.”

The tribunal consisting judicial member Raghuvendra S Rathore and expert member Dr Satyawan Singh Garbayal in their order, asked the forest department of MP govt to proceed with the recommendation of the MOEF with regard to mapping, notifying and handing over the land to the forest department within a period of three months, latest by April 30, 2020, and a compliance report be submitted.
However, what happened to the NGT report could be gauged by the fact that conservator of forest, Bhopal, Alok Pathak, in a letter to joint director, town & country planning, on July 3, 2023, wrote: “357.78 hectare revenue forestland was transferred to forest department in compliance to an NGT order in 2020 and it was declared ‘reserved forest land’. Therefore before giving sanction to construction of any kind in the Kaliasot-Kerwa region, obtaining a NOC of this office is a must. This office is aware of the fact that construction work in this region is being carried out by different agencies constantly and no NOC has been obtained for the purpose. If any permission for construction without obtaining permission of this office has been given, it should be immediately cancelled or else legal action would be initiated against the person/agency concerned.”
However, in the absence of any measures to check illegal construction in the area and consequent chopping of trees. Noor is contemplating filing another petition before the NGT.

Illegal Construction Threatens Green Pockets in Kaliasot-Kerwa Tiger Zone | Bhopal News - Times of India (2024)

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