The High Court on Friday issued notice to the Power Grid Corporation of India and the Jammu and Kashmir government on a Public Interest Litigation petition against cutting down of thousands of trees in the Sindh forests for laying 220KV Srinagar-Leh transmission line.
Division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Dhiraj Singh Thakur issued the notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government through its Chief Secretary. Notice was also issued to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests J&K, Secretary Forest Department, Divisional Forest Officer, Ganderbal, Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, General Manager, Power Grid Corporation of India.
While Advocate General D C Raina accepted notice on behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir government, advocate Manzoor Ahmad Beigh appeared on behalf of Power Grid Corporation of India.
Meanwhile, the court sought status report with regard to execution of the project as well as clearness from various departments.
Advocate Lone Altaf has approached the court seeking directions to the authorities concerned to immediately stop cutting of trees for laying Srinagar-Leh 220KV transmission line in the Sindh forests.
The petitioner has also sought directions for realignment of the transmission line preferably along the sides of Nallah Sindh so that the loss of trees is minimized.
“The respondents have created a disaster. About 148.1469 hectares of forestland has been sanctioned for construction of the said transmission line by Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) of which 84.0689 hectares alone have been sanctioned in Sindh Division,” the petition reads.
The petition says that a total 14,561 trees have to be cut down including 8,166 trees in Sindh division alone, for the execution of the project. “Nearly about 20,000 cft timber has already been felled and around 92,000 cft will be felled after cutting down remaining forests for the said transmission line,” it reads.
“The total length of transmission line is 375 km. The length passing through the forest area is 42.327 km,” the petitioner who has placed on record the pictures of chopped trees.
“The transmission line could have been aligned on the sides of Nallah Sindh in such a way as to save forests and restore its charm and beauty. It appears to be a sorry state of affairs that respondents without assessing the impact of the said action on environment have bombarded the trees in the said forests. The said action of the respondents has a far reaching consequence and will jeopardize the entire ecology in the said forest area,” the petition reads.
The petitioner submitted that cutting down of the forest trees is against the Supreme Court directions as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Act,1997.