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Not averse to sustainable development but forest cover can't be destroyed, says SC

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 13-09-2019 19:17 IST | Created: 13-09-2019 19:17 IST
Not averse to sustainable development but forest cover can't be destroyed, says SC

The Supreme Court Friday told the Goa government that it is not averse to "sustainable development" but forest cover should not be destroyed at any cost. The authorities cannot "destroy" Goa just because it has a forest cover above the national average, the apex court said.

It also stated that it is against those politicians who use the court orders for "unscrupulous purposes". "We are with you for sustainable development but it is not that you will destroy the forest cover. We will not allow you to cut even a single tree," a bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Mehta told the bench that Goa has a forest cover of around 62 per cent, which is much above the national average. "So does that give you the right to destroy it?," the bench said, adding, "You are lucky to have this forest cover. Our request is that do not destroy it".

Mehta told the court that they do not want to destroy the forest cover at all and he was not seeking permission to cut any tree in Goa. The bench was hearing an application seeking modification of the February 4, 2015 order of the apex court passed in a matter related to Goa.

The top court order had directed that authorities in Goa would not issue 'no objection certificate' for conversion of any plot "that has natural vegetation with tree canopy density in excess of 0.1 and an area above one hectare". During the arguments on Friday, Mehta said if this order would stand then authorities in Goa would not have any area for development.

"What development? You want to destroy Goa also. Yesterday, we were told that Pachmarhi (in Madhya Pradesh) has gone," the bench said. "If you come here for any particular project, we are not averse to it," the bench said, adding that "we are against politicians who use our orders for unscrupulous purposes".

Mehta told the bench that the application should be heard after which the apex court listed it for hearing on September 23. While hearing a separate matter related to eviction of around 11.8 lakh alleged illegal forest dwellers and tribals across the country on Thursday, a bench headed by Justice Mishra had said that forest areas like Pachmarhi biosphere reserve and Gir national park in Gujarat are "finished" due to urbanisation and construction of five-star hotels and resorts.

It had expressed serious concern over degradation of such eco-sensitive places and stressed that there is a need to "protect the forests".


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