NGT raps Goa govt over delay in identification and demarcation of private forest

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Goa government over the delay in identification and demarcation of private forests in the coastal state saying the State authorities were deliberately delaying the compliance of its orders.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel directed the Goa government to complete the entire exercise within three months.

The tribunal warned that if the exercise is not completed within the stipulated time, coercive measures may have to be taken if the concerned officers do not behave responsibly.

If any grievance survives, it will be open to the applicant to take further remedies in accordance with the law, the bench said.

The Goa government had constituted a Committee on January 21, 2020 to submit a report on the review of earlier reports prepared by different Committees.

For this purpose, public notice was issued on July 15, 2020 and time to file objections was extended till August 31, 2020 on the ground of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the objections have still not been finalised, the tribunal noted.

The counsel for the Goa government submitted before the NGT that the exercise will require one year time.

The tribunal, however, said 'we find the statement to be ridiculous and lacks sense of responsibility since the Tribunal, by order passed more than two years ago required the whole exercise to be completed by March, 2019.

'Thus, it is difficult to brush aside the contention of the applicant that the attitude of the State authorities is to deliberately delay the compliance of orders of this tribunal for indefinite period, defeating the public interest,' the bench said.

The NGT had earlier directed the Goa government to notify an area of 46.11 square kilometres as 'private forest'.

The tribunal had passed the order on a plea filed by NGO Goa Foundation. PTI PKS RKS RKS