New Delhi, May 4: The National Green Tribunal today sought responses of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and governments of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on the issue of forest fires raging in both the states.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued notice to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) asking it to file its response in the matter by May 10, the next date of hearing. The tribunal had yesterday issued show cause notices to both the states in the matter observing it was shocked that everybody was taking the issue "so casually".
During the hearing today, the advocate representing the petitioner, told the bench that massive forest fires in large parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have also reached Jammu and Kashmir. "This (forest fire) is an annual affair but no one is doing anything.
This is a disaster for the environment. The forest areas are under grave threat and the authorities are not doing anything.
There is a gross negligence," the counsel said. He also said it was a serious environmental issue as such fires cause air pollution and also impact the glaciers. The bench asked the counsel representing MoEF and the states, "What action have you taken? You were informed well in time about these fires.
What steps have you taken? Today, the fire is huge. It must have started somewhere. What is being done on the alerts about such forest fires?" To this, the lawyers said, "We will come out with all the details."
The bench directed the ministry as well as both the state governments to apprise it about the steps taken in this regard and also about the preventive measures to stop such incidents. The Centre has claimed that situation in the state was "under control". Forest area of over 3000 hectares have been blighted in Uttarakhand due to the fire.