New Delhi, March 17: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday, March 17 directed three private firms, which have illegally chopped off 45 trees in a forest area in Faridabad, to plant ten times the number of trees cut by them.
Taking a serious view of felling of trees in the Mangar Bani forest, a grove off the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway, the green panel also slapped a total penalty of Rs one lakh on the three companies for restoration of the area.
"Irrespective of prosecution under the Forest Act when it is proved that they have cut and removed trees without obtaining necessary permission and also constructed the road illegally, applying the Polluter Pays Principle they are liable to pay environmental compensation for degradation of environment.
"Considering all the relevant facts including the number and nature, species of the trees, the effect of its loss to the environment, respondents 6 to 8 are jointly and severally shall pay an environmental compensation of Rs one lakh," a bench headed by Justice M S Nambiar said.
The bench said the respondents "shall plant ten times the number of trees felled by them, i.e. 500 saplings of the same species that were cut and shall be responsible for the upkeep of these trees for five years."
The green panel directed the three companies --Kenwood Mercantile, Goodfaith Builders Pvt Ltd and Nandak Infocom -- to pay the amount, to be utilised exclusively for restoration of the environment of the area, to Haryana state pollution control board within three weeks.
It also asked Haryana government and forest department to take "appropriate action whenever there is any unauthorised cutting of trees or breaking of the land or any non-forest activity in the forest, including 'Gair mumkin pahar' which is a deemed forest in view of the Notification issued under the Punjab Land Preservation Act and the declaration of the Supreme Court."
The direction came on a plea filed by Col Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, through advocate Rahul Choudhary, who had said that "more than 50 trees axed as the road cuts through heart of Mangar" and annexed newspaper reports in this regard.
He had alleged that these private firms were trying to change the land-use from 'gair mumkin pahar' (non-cultivable land) to agricultural land by changing the land record in Mangar area which is hilly and forested.