The National Green Tribunal has directed an inquiry into the alleged felling and sale of 4,000 trees in the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) near the Taj Mahal. The Uttar Pradesh government has denied the allegation.
The NGT bench appointed advocate M C Mehta to visit Taj Eco Zone where the trees are alleged to have been cut and asked him to file a report within two weeks. The tribunal took note of a newspaper report and issued notice to the MoEF and UP government. It also directed UP to provide “all facilities and, if required, police security” for Mehta.
“We direct a nominee of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) Dehradun to be present with Mr Mehta during the course of the inspection,” the bench said.
The report alleged that the former Agra DFO had allegedly felled 8,000 trees in the Babarpur area and another 4,000 trees in the 500 metre radius around the Taj Mahal — an ESZ.
Advocate General Vijay Bahadur Singh, appearing for the UP government, said that the newspaper report was factually incorrect. Terming it a “mischievous act” he said that he would file a comprehensive affidavit on behalf of the state supported by Google images and other revenue records to show that not even a single tree, particularly in the Taj Eco Zone, had been cut or sold.
The Advocate General further told the bench that state has constituted a High Power Committee to investigate the matter on which the green panel directed it to file the report within three weeks.