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Court allows felling of trees in the Andamans

Thursday 6 January 2005

NEW DELHI, JAN. 5. The Supreme Court today permitted the felling of tress in the forests of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, devastated by Tsunami waves, to enable the use of the timber for relief and rehabilitation.

By Our Legal Correspondent

To protect the environment and forest cover, the court on May 7, 2002 passed an order directing the Centre, all the States and the Union Territories to completely stop removal of the timber from forest areas. It had also directed the closure of private sawmills and banned the removal of sand, use of forestland for non-forest purposes in the Andaman islands.

But the island administration wrote to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on January 3 seeking permission to allow felling and use of timber and non-timber forest produce such as bamboo for purposes of reconstruction and repair of houses, to set up relief camps, to repair jetties, bridges and public buildings damaged by the tsunami.

The CEC, which is appointed by the court, recommended that permission be given for extraction of timber and non-timber forest produce from the forest areas including deemed forest.

A Bench, comprising Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari, accepted the application and relaxed the 2002 order insofar as the island is concerned. It made it clear that no felling of trees would be done up to 1000 metres from the seashore, in national parks and sanctuaries and in mangrove forests.

The Bench said the felling of trees in the island would be exclusively for meeting the immediate requirement of rehabilitation and not for commercial purposes. This would be monitored by a committee headed by a person of the rank of Chief Conservator of Forests.

See online : The Hindu

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