J&K HC Directs Forest Department to take urgent steps

    Articulating alarm over depleting forest cover in the J&K valley, the Single Bench of Justice Rajesh Bindal observed that urgent steps need to be taken by the UT administration to remedy the condition.

    The Court also detected that the manner of operation of the Forest department in the valley is not very appreciable as they are not monitoring the forest areas to prevent illegal encroachment.

    “This Court is inhibited to wristwatch that the way the forest department is functioning can’t be appreciated. It has hefty area under its control in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir but unfortunately, not being monitored properly through there are ways and means to do the same. Forest cover is diminishing as intrusions are increasing day by day. Illegal forest cutting is also rampant. Some urgent steps are required to be taken to require care of our green cover,” Justice Bindal remarked.

    He was hearing a writ petition filed by one Mohammad Sadiq Wani, seeking a direction upon the forest authorities to increase the amount of his permission for extraction/collection of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) from Marwah Forest Division.

    The Court held that these aspects of the matter are required to be examined at the very best level, so on ascertain whether there has been annual award of contracts and if not, whether there have been good reasons for an equivalent .

    The Bench observed,
    Fool resilient technique or removal also are required to be put in place.Under what conditions, the contractor, who had been awarded contract for extraction of NTFP for a particular period can be granted extension when the period of extension may overlap with the amount that next year’s contract could also be awarded.

    Accordingly, the Forest Secretary to the UT Administration and therefore the Chief Conservator of Forests within the valley are directed to require appropriate action within the matter.

    However, no relief was granted to the Petitioner for availability of an “effective alternate remedy” already provided in his extraction accept the shape of arbitration.