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HC orders �absolute ban� on tree cutting in Manipur

By Sobhapati samom

IMPHAL, Sept 3 - High Court of Manipur has directed an �absolute ban on cutting down of trees in reserved forest areas as well as excavation of hills for any purpose without permission� of the court.

A division bench of the High Court comprising Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Kh Nobin Singh on Wednesday passed an interim order in this regard while responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the �unhindered and indiscriminate excavation of hills, especially in the reserved forest areas� in the Heingang areas in Manipur�s Imphal East district.

The illegal activities of deforestation and illegal excavation are going on in various reserved forests in and around Imphal valley, according to the PIL filed by chairman of Safe Environment Campaign Committee, Heingang, Mutum Inaobi Singh.

It is a matter which requires immediate attention by the authorities concerned, it added, as the Forest Conservation Act 1980 provides for restriction on the dereservation of forests or use for forest land for non-forest purpose, the PIL said.

Accordingly, the court issued the directive to ban the cutting down of trees and excavation of hills until further orders. The concerned authorities of both the State and Central Governments have been directed �to ensure that the order of the Court is complied with both in letter and spirit�, the order said. The next hearing will be held on October 11 this year.

In the recently concluded Assembly, the State Forest and Environment Minister Th Shyamkumar Singh had informed that a total of 85 encroachers including 53 from Heingang reserve forest and 32 from Langol reserve forest have been evicted. He said people cannot construct houses and settle in these reserve forest areas.

The total area of reserve forests (RF) in the State was 984.25 sq km including 338.32 sq km in Churachandpur district and 0.09 sq km in Bishnupur district, he said. With area coverage of 253.89 sq km across its 8 RF areas, Senapati district has the second highest RF areas coverage among all the hill districts while Chandel district has 3 RFs measuring 141.86 sq km.

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