SC reconstitutes CEC to look after country's forest cover

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (UNI) The Supreme Court today reconstituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) looking after forest matter with P B Jayakrishnan heading the seven-member committee.

The three-judge-bench, comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia, also extended the term of CEC by another three years or until further orders, whichever is be earlier.

Other members of the committee are Director General of forest P R Mohanty, member secretary M K Jiwrajka, Mr S K Patnaik, Dr M K Mathew, Mr Mahendr Vyas and deputy secretary Sanjeev Chaddha.

The apex court also directed that Mr Jiwrajka, who is on deputation and belongs to Forest Officials Cadre of Maharashtra, shall remain on deputation till March 31, 2009.

The bench had earlier turned down the plea of the Centre to abolish CEC and leave the task of looking after the forest cover in the country as well as environment to the government, which had enough expertise to do the same.

The bench has been monitoring the developments taking place in the country's forests since 1996 and issuing directions to the authorities from time to time for checkmating the felling of trees and theft of goods by the timber mafia in collusion with the forest official.

The apex court has also been trying to look after the rampant encroachment of forest land by the land mafia in connivance with the government official to ensure that such encroachments of reserved areas in forests do not take place.

The forest cover in the country has been depleting very fast due to the illegal activities of land and timber mafia, with the active backing of the local government machinery seriously affecting the environment and ecology in the country. People have also set up industries illegaly in those areas, creating environmental problem due to pollution.

UNI AKS/SC GL HS1940

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