Millennium Post (Kolkata)

HC seeks Centre’s stand on deploying forces to protect forests by land grabbers and mafia


DELHI: The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s stand on a petition about whether any force can be deployed for the protection of forests in the national Capital from illegal activities or encroachme­nts by land grabbers and mafia.

The court’s direction came on a petition seeking a direction to the Central government to post an adequate number of Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers with the Delhi government’s Department of Forests and Wildlife.

The Principal Chief Conservato­r

of Forests, in the reply, said forest officials were facing constant threats from land grabbers and mafia who make rampant encroachme­nt on forest land, and a proposal has been made for engaging the CISF in forest areas. The counsel for the Centre, however, said CISF rules don’t permit such deployment.

“Counsel for Union of India is directed to take instructio­ns as to whether any other force can be deployed for the protection of forest so as to ensure that no illegal activities or encroachme­nts in the forest area is done by the land grabbers and mafia etc,” said Justice Subramoniu­m Prasad in a recent order.

The petitioner had sought the court’s direction for deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel on an urgent basis to aid and to protect the lives of the frontline forestry staff and to safeguard the reserved and protected forests of the national capital.

The court, in the order, also rejected the Delhi government’s plea seeking waiver of costs of Rs 50,000 imposed by it earlier for failing to file a reply in the matter.

Considerin­g that the reply was not being filed in spite of repeated directions, the court said it was not inclined to waive the costs and directed the city government to deposit the same with the ‘Green Delhi Account’ within two weeks. The court added that the amount shall be utilised for planting trees of Pilkhan, Amaltas, Peepal, Goolar, Kadam and Neem species, having a nursery age of 4 years.

The petitioner wanted direction to the authoritie­s concerned to ensure that necessary steps are taken for the protection of forest rangers, forest guards and other field staff of the State Forest Department in terms of better protective equipment, firearms and staff strength.

The petitioner was represente­d by lawyers Gautam Narayan and Aditya N Prasad.

The petition said the staff is under tremendous pressure and are threatened and assaulted while dischargin­g their statutory duties in the national capital.It spoke about the right to a clean and healthy environmen­t for the petitioner that has been guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constituti­on, the plea stated.

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