GUWAHATI: The NGT (National Green Tribunal) took suo moto cognizance against the Assam Forest Department and issued a notice to it on the charge of violating the established environmental norms. The tribunal listed the matter for hearing on February 15, 2024.
A media report alleged that top forest officials had illegally diverted 44 hectares of protected forest land for the sitting up of Commando Battalion Headquarters in the Hailakandi district, bypassing the mandatory procedures under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Permission has been granted for the construction of the second Assam Commando Battalion unit headquarters inside the Innerline Reserved Forest in Hailakandi. The inner line reserved forest established in 1877 covers around one lakh hectares of land. It is known for rich biodiversity, including habitats for hoolock gibbons, clouded leopards, elephants, tigers, slow loris, etc.
The tribunal observes that the report raised a substantial issue regarding compliance with environmental norms.
The NGT has issued notices to four parties: the Principal Chief Conservators of Forest, Assam; the Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam Forest Department; Hailakandi DC; and the Inspector General of the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The NGT said, "In the circumstances of the case, we deem it proper to implead the above authorities as respondents in the matter".