‘Court Stay’ on Punjab’s New Wood Industry Licenses

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed a Punjab government decision that reduced prohibitive aerial distance for establishing a saw mill near a forest from 10 km to 100 meter. The HC has directed the state to strictly adhere to the guidelines issued in this regard by the central ministry.

The division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Rajiv Sharma in the order dated December 16 said the operation of Rule 6-A of Punjab Regulation of Wood Based Industries Rules, 2017 permitting establishment of wood based industry within 100 meter aerial distance from notified government Block Forests and demarcated and un-demarcated protected forests in the state is stayed.

The order has been passed in a petition filed by Amritsar based by Just Sewa Society through advocate Dilpreet Singh Gandhi for quashing of relaxation made in the ‘The Punjab Regulation of Wood Based Industries Rules, 2017’ and direction to Punjab to not issue any new licence to the saw mills without inspecting the status of availability of timber and other woods in the state and without following the norms laid down by Supreme Court in T N Godavarman Thirumunkpat vs Union of India case.

It has been contended in the petition that the Punjab notification is in violation of the Centre-notified Wood Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Guidelines, 2016 which provide that no wood based industries would be located and operated at an aerial distance less than 10 km from the boundary of a notified forest or a protected area.

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