The National Green Tribunal has disposed of an application seeking a rehearing on a decision of the Punjab forest department allowing wood-based industries to operate without any restriction.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the Tribunal considered the matter in the light of a factual report dated September 17, 2021, submitted by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), Punjab justifying the decision taken.
“The present review application, in substance, seeks rehearing which is not permissible. The application is accordingly dismissed,” said the bench in its order dated February 2.
According to the plea, the forest cover in Punjab is already very low, and permitting an unlimited number of wood-based industries merely on the condition that the source of wood should be agroforestry species from non-forest land, imported wood, and wood from other states will not be adequate safeguards against illegal deforestation.
The decision taken by the Punjab government to boost the wood-based industries in the state heated up the environmental issues associated with it and reached to the green court.
As per the Wood-Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Guidelines, 2016, the industry would be permitted at a distance of 10 km from notified government block forests, besides demarcated and undemarcated protected forests in the state.