The Supreme Court Thursday criticised Uttar Pradesh government for allegedly allowing private claims on reserved forest in Mirzapur district since 1994 in violation of its orders.
“You were sleeping for 26 years and now you are asking us to remove everyone,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai remarked while hearing a plea by the state which urged the court to quash all such illegal claims settled after the July 18, 1994, the cut-off date fixed by the apex court.
“What were you doing all these years? Do you not have any disciplinary control over these forest officers?” the bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the state.
Mehta pointed out that the though the court had fixed the 1994 cut-off date for settlement of claims way back in1986, the illegalities continued.
In 1994, he said, the apex court had said no third party or industry could be allotted land in these reserved forests, but this was flouted. Even claims of some PSUs like National Thermal Power Corporation, Northern Coalfields Limited and Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board were allowed, he added.
The court, however, said it will pass orders only after hearing the allottees too, given the likely implications. It asked the state to submit a list of all such allotted claims by next week. The UP government has sought that all such claims settled by Forest Settlement Officers and Additional District Judges after the cut-off date are declared null and void.