The National Green Tribunal (NGT) principal bench in New Delhi on Thursday issued notice to the Uttarakhand government and five other respondents for the alleged illegal felling of trees around the Nainital Lake area after a complaint letter.
The respondents have been directed to reply to the notices within one month.
NGT order to the Uttarakhand government stated that in view of the averments in the application and observations in the report of the joint committee, it considers it appropriate to have a response from the Uttarakhand government, forest department, urban development, divisional commissioner, Kumaon, principal chief conservator of forests and Nainital municipal corporation.
A letter petition was sent to NGT by one Vivek Verma stating that unauthorised felling of trees, belonging to endangered species, was being done adjacent to Nainital city leading to great damage to the forest area.
The deforestation is leading to a loss of the catchment area of Naini Lake, the petition alleged.
The tribunal heard the matter on November 24 and a copy of the order was made available on Thursday which was then sent to Uttarakhand from Delhi.
The green panel’s order stated that on September 1 this year it had constituted a joint committee and directed it to submit a factual and action-taken report within two months. The report was sent to NGT on October 31.
“In view of the significant nature and impact of the environmental violations involved, the tribunal considers it appropriate to have assistance from senior advocates as amicus curie. Accordingly, the tribunal has appointed advocate Akash Vashishtha as amicus curie to assist in a just and fair adjudication of the questions involved,” the order further stated.
The matter has been listed for the next hearing on February 3, 2023.
Over the years, experts and many local people have expressed concerns over the fragile ecology of Nainital Lake and the forests in its catchment area.
The mango-shaped Nainital Lake surrounded by forested hills is situated at an elevation of 1938 metres.