On October 27, 2021, the high court will hear arguments in two instances, one brought by Pant of Dehradun and the other in which it took suo motu notice of media reports regarding unlawful structures and tree cutting in Corbett.
On Friday, the Uttarakhand High Court announced that it had reserved its decision regarding the CBI investigation into illegal constructions and the removal of 6,000 trees from Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR).
In its ruling from August 21, the high court had noted that it would decide whether to send the matter to the CBI on September 1, the next day of hearing in the case.
The division bench of chief judge Vipin Sanghi and justice Alok Kumar Verma heard the case and reserved judgment, according to petitioner Anu Pant’s attorney, Abhijay Negi.
On October 27, 2021, the high court will hear arguments in two instances, one brought by Pant of Dehradun and the other in which it took suo motu notice of media reports about unauthorized building projects and tree cutting in Corbett.
“I informed the court that despite five inquiries into the matter, no action has been taken against the senior forest department officials who, right in front of their eyes, allowed illegal constructions to go forward and cut down 6,000 trees in a region with the highest concentration of tigers in the world. Additionally, I told the court that many of the senior officials had received promotions rather than punishment, added attorney Negi.
The state government’s attorneys, according to Negi, have asked for extra time since they believe the vigilance investigation into the Corbett matter is nearing its conclusion and as a result, more time should be granted.
In connection with the Corbett issue, Uttarakhand Vigilance conducted a raid on a college run by Tushit Rawat, the son of former forest minister and Congressman Harak Singh Rawat, in Dehradun on Wednesday.
Last month, HT reported that the Principal Accountant General (Audit) for Uttarakhand had discovered “gross financial irregularities” totaling more than Rs. 78 crore, of which more than Rs. 17 crore had been paid in the Lansdowne Forest Division, the CTR, and Kalagarh Tiger Reserve (KTR).
One generator was installed at the Doon Institute of Medical Science in Dehradun (a private institution run by the son of the then Forest Minister) and at Meerawati Filling Station, village Nepali Farm, Hindrawala, Rishikesh, according to the report on the two generators purchased by the KTR district forest officer (DFO). The division spent 15.40 lakh to purchase the aforementioned generators.
According to Negi, the high court also requested that the chief secretary submit all investigation findings related to the matter to the court on January 6, 2023, and inform the court of the officials accountable for illegal structures and tree cutting.
He continued by saying that despite the fact that the then-forest minister Harak Singh Rawat’s name was prominently displayed in the Central Empowered Committee report that had been delivered to the Supreme Court, his name was omitted from the affidavit submitted by the state government.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) established a committee in March of this year, and it delivered its report on Monday, accusing Harak Singh Rawat and eight other officers for different infractions in the unlawful structures and tree removal in CTR.
The NGT established a committee to find the offenders and suggest actions for the restoration of the environment in CTR in October of last year after taking suo motu cognizance of a media report on the illegal destruction of over 6,000 trees there.
The high court ordered the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), Uttarakhand, chief wildlife warden, and CTR field director to inspect the Corbett reserve with regard to the allegations and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) report and submit an action taken report to the court on October 27, 2021, while taking suo motu cognisance of media reports.
The issue relates to a petition that was initially submitted by Supreme Court counsel and wildlife activist Gaurav Bansal. According to Bansal, the Delhi High Court ordered the NTCA to look into the concerns made in a case he filed over illegal constructions, tree removal, and the construction of access roads in CTR on August 23, 2021.
On September 5, 2021, NTCA established a committee in accordance with the court’s instructions. The committee inspected CTR between September 26 and September 30 and filed a report on October 22, 2021.
Uttarakhand High Court Judgement on CBI enquiry….