Shimla: While hearing a petition highlighting the issue of illegal felling of healthy green trees within the municipal jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday has stayed all the permissions of felling/lopping of trees, except the permissions granted to the State’s Electricity Department.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice Anoop Chitkara passed these orders on a petition treated as Public Interest Litigation.

The petitioner has highlighted the issue of illegal felling of healthy green trees within the Shimla Municipal Corporation, by countermanding the statutory provisions of the Forest Conservation Act and H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, and by also violating various directions passed by the Hon’ble Apex Court, High Court and the National Green Tribunal.

The petitioner has prayed to quash and set aside the permissions granted by Tree Authority Committee for felling of innumerable trees and also to quash and set aside notification regarding constitution of cabinet sub-committee to decide and dispose of all matter of felling of trees.

The petitioner has also prayed to hold an impartial and independent inquiry, as to whether convincing and cogent reasons were recorded, photography and videography were conducted while processing the applications, requisite environment clearance was obtained, whether serious efforts were made to save the trees and felling of trees was permitted only as a last resort.

The petitioner has prayed to restrain the authorities from furthering the process of illegal felling of green trees or granting permission in future without the leave of the Court, in the garb of dangerous trees, or widening of existing roads, and also from granting any permission w.r.t. cutting/felling/lopping of any green trees in the green belts/public forests in the jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation, Shimla.

With respect to the list of the cases recommended by the TAC for felling/lopping of trees, the Court directed the State to give information about the cases where the felling of trees took place, where felling orders expired without any felling of trees, where felling orders were renewed after expiry and where permissions were not renewed.

The Court has posted the matter for May 12.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.