HC directs Centre, State Govts not to undertake felling of trees

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Chennai, Feb 21 (UNI) The Madras High Court today directed the Centre and Tamil Nadu Government not to undertake any felling of trees or alienate any forest land for tribals under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 and Act 2 of 2007.

Admitting a writ petition, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice F M Ibrahim Khalifullah, directed both the Governments, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Environment and Forests, its Director General and State Chief Secretary not to alienate any land, particularly from sanctuaries, national parks and biospheres and reserved areas, by issuing pattas to tribals.

The court also directed the respondents to desist from felling of trees in these areas, till further orders.

The court's direction followed a petition filed by retired Forest Officer Sambasivam, who sought quashing of the Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 and Act 2 of 2007, pending disposal of the case.

The petitioner said under Sec 3 (i) of the Act, the forest dwelling STs and other traditional forest dwellers were being conferred a right to hold and live in the forest land for habitation and self-cultivation.

''Sub-section 2 of Sec 3 enables the Government to fell trees, not exceeding 75 trees per hectare, for cosntruction of public utility structures or establishments. It also enables the Centre to provide for diversion of forest land including felling of trees,'' he contended.

He submitted that the 1980 Act was changed in 2006 and it was notifed in 2007 and came in 2008 January. The changes in the Act would lead to increase in extend of land being alloted to tribals as well as with regard to felling of trees.

UNI XR-GV KD DB2101

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