DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand high court on Tuesday Uttarakhand government's office order which defined deemed forests as as 'a land patch of 10 hectares or above with 60% canopy density and 75% native plant species'.
Rajeev Singh Bisht, counsel for the petitioner said, "The honourable court has stayed this office order of the state government and has asked them to file their response over the matter till January 2, 2020."
A public interest litigation was filed in this regard by Ajay Singh Rawat, a resident of Nainital stating that it is an illegal order which is in violation of the predominant forest laws only with a motive to dilute the provisions restricting non-forest activities in the forest area and for accomplishing this dreaded task it has wrongfully tried to change the definition of the word “Forest” ensuring an unrestricted destruction.
The petitioner in the PIL also said that the action of the state government is in clear violation of the public trust doctrine, thereby violating the right to a wholesome environment, which is a facet of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Last month, Uttarakhand state government framed a new definition of 'deemed forests' as 'a land patch of 10 hectares or above with 60% canopy density and 75% native plant species'.
The letter dated November 21, 2019, by state forest department states that a land patch of 10 hectares or above with 60% canopy density and 75% native plant species will be considered as deemed forests other than notified ones.
Following this, Union ministry of forest, environment and climate change pulled up the state government over the new definition of 'Deemed Forest' saying that the states and union territories should not issue any communication violative of Supreme Court directions.
The letter also said that according to the apex court order the Forest Conservation Act 1980 will be applicable to all areas recorded as forest in any government record and any other area that has been considered to conform to the dictionary meaning of forest.