The Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (RTI) Movement has demanded that the culprits, particularly the construction company and local government agencies that have paved the way for the cutting down of over 300 green trees in the Sonmarg region near Zojila tunnel, be held accountable as the said act is an open breach of forest and environmental laws.
A day after the report that the agency constructing the Zojila tunnel has chopped hundreds of trees without seeking permission from the Forest Department came, the RTI movement issued a statement in which Chairman RTI Movement Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat has said that stern action should be taken against the company and Government officials who are involved in this criminal act. He said that RTI Movement will move to National Green Tribunal (NGT) of Govt fails to act against the culprits
“By punishing a lower rung officer of the forest department and attaching him with DFO office Ganderbal is only a mockery, said Dr. Raja Muzaffar in the statement.
The statement further read that an independent probe should be held in this whole issue and real culprits should be identified. In the past of private construction company axed thousands of forest trees in Pir Panjal forests of Shopian, Poonch, and Budgam during the laying of the Sama Amargad transmission line but till date, no probe was constituted how many forest trees were actually allowed to be axed and how much amount was realized as compensation from the company.
The statement added: “If the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) hasn’t given permission to axing 340 trees near the Zojila tunnel site, how did the company go ahead with the mass slaughter of so many trees?”
“We may be forced to file a complaint before NGT if Govt doesn’t act against the culprits ” read the statement.