Felling of trees near Lucknow; SC asks UP, Centre to give info

 The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh Forest department to give requisite information to a court-appointed amicus curiae on allegation of cutting down trees in a sprawling farm land near Lucknow to develop a smart city.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh Forest department to give requisite information to a court-appointed amicus curiae on allegation of cutting down trees in a sprawling farm land near Lucknow to develop a smart city.

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra Ghose asked amicus curiae A D N Rao to file a report including the suggestions after getting information from UP administration and the central Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

"Whatever you (Rao) have to say, say in writing. Meanwhile, the Centre (MoEF) can also file an affidavit in a week's time," the bench said and fixed the matter for further hearing on March 10.

During the brief hearing, Rao said that around 15 hectares of the Chak Ganjaria farm land, spread over 992 acres, falls under the definition of forest land.

Admittedly, no construction activities, to develop smart city near Lucknow, can be carried on forest land without getting a clearance from MoEF, he said.

Earlier also, the court had asked the amicus curiae to file a comprehensive report on felling of trees.

Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for UP, had said the trees have been felled as per the law and after getting the requisite approvals.

The bench is hearing a plea filed by NGO 'We the People' through its General Secretary and advocate Prince Lenin.

The petition has sought directions to UP and its Agriculture Production Commissioner that trees on the land near Lucknow should not be cut.

The plea has said that UP was planning to "destroy/remove the existing greenery spread over farm land belonging to the forest department in the name to development of hi-tech city and colonies and shift animals to Neblet Farm in Barabanki."

It also alleged that mandatory environment clearances have not been obtained from the Centre despite the grave threat to the loss of environment, and it was likely result in environmental changes and affect biodiversity of the area.

The plea also sought quashing of all transfer proceedings pertaining to land belonging to the farm and a bar on destroying any greenery present on the land.

It also asked the court to direct the state government not to remove the animals residing within the forests spread over the farm land.

The petition had claimed that the farm land consists of 565 cows of Sahiwal breed, hundreds of peacocks, deer, jackal, owls, sparrows, parrots, pythons, cobras and several other birds and animals.

It is a forest area and housed several different species of trees, more than 1000 fully grown trees in number, which included neem, sheesham, peepal, babul, bargad, jamun, mango, singhdi and eucalyptus, according to it.

The state government, however, claimed that the land of the farm was neither a notified forest nor a reserved forest or wild life sanctuary and it has planned to optimally use the land available in the farm with a view to achieving critical developmental goals.

It also said that all the necessary clearance and measures would be taken in this regard.

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