The Supreme Court has ordered that; in protected forests, a minimum of one kilometre of eco-sensitive zone be maintained.

Supreme Court has refused to stay the NGT’s order prohibiting the establishment of new wood-based enterprises in Uttar Pradesh.

Supreme Court has refused to stay the NGT’s order prohibiting the establishment of new wood-based enterprises in Uttar Pradesh.

Last week, the Supreme Court decided to stay a judgement by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that overturned the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow 1,350 new wood-based companies to open in the state [State of Uttar Pradesh vs Uday Education and Welfare Trust].

A division bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai  hearing an appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against the NGT’s February 18, 2020 ruling setting aside a notice issued by the state on March 1, 2019 allowing new wood-based enterprises.

The Court noted that the State Level Committee’s decision to grant permission for new wood-based industries only after receiving a report from the Indian Plywood Industries Research & Training Institute (IPIRTI), Bengaluru, which had been asked to conduct an assessment, had been approved by the State in a resolution.

On the surface, we agree with; the Tribunal that the State must collect data before allowing new wood-based companies to operate “According to the Supreme Court.

The State government proposed granting licences to 1,350 new wood-based companies, which Samvit Foundation, Uday Education & Welfare Trust, and UP Timber Association challenged in the public interest before the NGT’s principal seat in Delhi.

The NGT had requested data from the state on three counts:

(i) For the past three years, district-level statistics on current saw mills or wood-based industries, including their; number, capacity, and availability of wood species for the abovementioned saw mills;

(ii) Justification for new industries in terms of demand and supply of different types of timber;

The state justified; its notice for the issuance of new industry licences by claiming that; it would lead to market development, job creation, seedling planting, reduced migration, reduced reliance on traditional/cash crops, increased new technology, increased export, reduced import, and better resource utilisation.

It went on to say that; the construction of new companies would result in an investment of almost 3,000 crores in the state, and that 80,000 people, largely from rural regions, would benefit from the jobs. As a result, the NGT’s orders would result in irreversible losses.

The NGT set aside the notice, according to the Supreme Court, since; the available data did not support the State’s position about the availability of adequate timber for the establishment of new wood-based companies.

The apex court underlined; the following in response to the petition for interim relief to allow new wood-based enterprises to begin operations:

“We requested the State to give copies of minutes of sessions of;  the State Level Committee held three times in 2018. The State claims that; the decision to allow new wood-based enterprises was based on recommendations made by the State Level Committee.

As a result, the Court denied any interim remedy.

Because of the gravity of the issues raised in the appeals, the Court ordered that; the case be set for a final hearing during the summer break if the parties agree.

Otherwise, the bench directed that the appeals be scheduled for August 2022.

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