NGT slams Numaligarh Refinery for cutting trees in Kaziranga

The National Green Tribunal has pulled up Numaligarh Refinery Limited for cutting trees to construct a boundary wall for a golf course in the 'No- Development Zone' in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, saying its forest clearance was an "abuse of law".

PTI| Updated: Oct 09, 2015, 18:17 PM IST

New Delh: The National Green Tribunal has pulled up Numaligarh Refinery Limited for cutting trees to construct a boundary wall for a golf course in the 'No- Development Zone' in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, saying its forest clearance was an "abuse of law".

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the Assam government to inspect the site and submit an inspection report in this regard by October 13.

"Your (refinery) forest clearance is hopeless. It is abuse of law and has no concern for environment... We direct the project proponent (refinery) to place on record complete documents to show how many trees they have cut and how many trees have they planted as afforestation and what is the mortality rate of the trees planted," the bench said.

It directed state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to take a "final view" in relation to the letters written by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO).

The DFO of Golaghat Division had stated that the land acquired by Numaligarh Refinery was in clear violation of the established laws, rules and conditions.

DFO had also written to the refinery stating that illegal construction of a very long stretch of boundary wall near Deopahar Proposed Reserve Forest was resulting in blocking of normal movement of wild elephants in the area.

The Tribunal had earlier restrained Numaligarh Refinery from carrying out any construction activity in the national park and directed Assam government to submit original records of documents including any environmental clearance and clearance from National Wildlife Board given to the refinery.

The green panel had on August 5 issued notice to Union Environment Ministry, Assam government and Numaligarh Refinery on a plea which alleged that concrete walls have been constructed hindering free passage of animals in Kaziranga.

The Tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Assam resident Rohit Choudhary seeking directions to immediately demolish the wall constructed by Numaligarh Refinery Limited and stop tree felling so as to prevent degradation of the environment.

Choudhary has alleged that Numaligarh Refinery, a joint venture between Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and Assam government, has illegally built a two-km long boundary wall for a golf course around their township which has obstructed elephant movement causing the death of an elephant calf in May.