NGT Stays the Cutting of Coconut Trees in Lakshadweep, Forms a Panel to Looks into its Environmental Effects

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Excerpt

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the authorities in the Agati Islands of Lakshadweep to stop the cutting of Coconut trees. Also, formed a committee to look into the environmental effects and the allegation against the authorities.

Petitioner’s Submission

The petitioner submitted that there is an indiscriminate cutting of coconut trees in the Agati Island of Lakshadweep. Alleging that this is being done for the construction of the beach road. He alleged that this cutting of trees is against the Integrated Island Management Plan of Lakshadweep, which was formulated based on the report of the expert committee formed by the Supreme Court.

The petitioner informed the court that the cutting of trees affects the residents of the islands as they lose the source of their income. Also, at the same time depletes the coastal line which protects the extreme land winds at the time of a cyclone.

The petitioner also informed that they have tried to get impleaded in the petition filed by the residents, in the high court in 2016. But that application was dismissed, and this made the applicant apply NGT.

Petitioner’s Request

The petitioner is seeking an order restraining the authorities from cutting the coconut trees. They further, sought inspection of the damages to the environment due to the cutting of the trees and proper remedial action for the damages.

Also, to initiate criminal prosecution against the people responsible for this act.

Court’s Observation 

The tribunal comprising of Justice K. Ramakrishnan and Mr Saibal Das Gupta observed that through the allegations of the petitioner there is a substantial question of environmental damage. And due to which it requires the interference of the NGT.

Court’s Decision

The tribunal, after evaluating the requests of the petitioner, passed a stay order to the authorities. It will stop them from cutting any coconut trees further till the next date. 

The tribunal also formed a Joint Committee to ascertain the following to find any violation, and then to evaluate the appropriate compensation for the proper remedial action.

  1. The real nature of damages is likely to be caused due to the cutting of the trees. 
  2. To check if there was any violation of the Integrated Island Management Plan of Lakshadweep.

The Committee formed will be comprised of:

  • Senior Officer of Regional Office, Chennai of the Environmental Ministry, 
  • Senior Scientist of National Coastal Zoo Management Authority, 
  • Senior Officer Lakshadweep Coastal Zone Management Authority, and 
  • Senior Scientist from the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, Chennai

The Regional Office of the Environment Ministry, Chennai has been appointed as the nodal agency. It will be responsible for the coordination and submitting the report of the Committee.

The Committee has been directed to submit the report before the next date of hearing that is 3rd November 2020.


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