After going through the report filed by the UP Forest Department’s High Power Committee on new licence issued for establishment of wood based industries in the state, NGT in his order dated August 06, 2019 has directed the State of UP to review the notice dated 01.03.2019 with regard to establishment of new wood based industries by 1350 units strictly in terms of judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in T.N. Godavarman v. U.O.I. and file a compliance report within one month.
NGT had raised question in this issue and had sought for a report from UP Forest Department on the process of licence issued for wood based industries. In this notice, the NGT had also sought for the forest department’s response to the amount of wood available in Uttar Pradesh. As per the report of Forest Survey of India (FSI) for the State of Uttar Pradesh, the total availability of wood in terms of Trees outside Forests (TOF) is 96.80% while the trees inside the forest is only 3.20%.
According to the order issued by NGT the grievance in the application is that ignoring the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the State of UP earlier granted exemption vide Notification dated 31.10.2017 which was quashed by this Tribunal in hearing a case in view of SC order dated 11.09.2018. Still, the State of UP proceeded on the basis of exemption and granted licenses for new wood based industries, wrongly assuming availability of wood for the purpose.
In the order it was also mentioned that the effect of quashing the exemption has been ignored. This may lead to clandestine cutting of trees at large scale to feed wood based industries. On the other hand the learned counsel for the applicant has referred to figure of forest availability for the new units were 65540 cu.mt. As per report dated 07.12.2015 as against the relied upon report dated 08.01.2018 by the FSI that wood available was 7,774,522 cu. mt.