NGT directs MoEF to finalise national policy on forest fires in 2 weeks
Noting that forest fires normally occur in April every year causing huge damage to the environment, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to finalise National Policy on Forest Fire within two weeks.
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim directed the Environment Ministry to get all requisite approvals and finalise the plan.
The ministry told the green panel that all the states have complied with the direction of the tribunal and submitted their response to the Draft National Policy on Forest Fire.
After receiving suggestion from all the states, the ministry was re-examining the draft policy and had fixed a workshop schedule to enable all stakeholders to participate in the effective discussion to finalise such policy.
The ministry sought two weeks’ time for finalising the document.
“Though we have acceded to grant of time, but in view of the fact that forest fires normally occur in the month of April every year, we direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to get the all requisite approval that are required from the Minister and give finality to the National Policy of Forest Fire and make it implementable,” the bench said while posting the matter for next hearing on April 24.
The MoEF had in February sought extension of time by three months to finalise the draft national plan.
The tribunal had earlier rapped the Centre for remaining a “mute spectator” to the recurring forest fires in the hilly states, and directed the environment ministry to formulate a national policy.
The green panel had said that advanced planning and implementation of fire management and crisis management plan for forest fires could have prevented massive fires that engulfed the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in recent years.
The tribunal also held that in order to ensure effective participation of the people living in villages close to forests, the labour for fire prevention and control should be sourced preferably from the same area and special incentive provided to such people.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by senior advocate Rajiv Dutta against the massive forest fires in hilly areas.
He had claimed that large area of forests, along with diverse biological species, have already become extinct as a consequence of these preventable forests.
“If no urgent steps are taken, further devastation would be caused to a huge chunk of flora and fauna which are considered as wealth of the nation,” he had said.