NGT chides Arunachal on illegal loggings; forest dept submits report without substantiating claims

[Tongam Rina]

ITANAGAR, 11 Jan: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has on its 6 January hearing said that state has merely proposed to stop illegal logging but has not taken action.

Hearing a petition filed by anti-logging activist, Jorjo Tana Tara, Justice P Wangdi and expert member Saibail Dasgupta while going through the status report filed by the PCCF (RE), Government of Arunachal on 31 December, 2020 stated “It is quite obvious … that all the actions are just proposals and nothing tangible appears to have resulted. However, it is quite heartening to note that hot spots of illegal logging have been identified and to prevent illegal logging and felling, range squads and divisional squads have been formed to be assisted by mobile squads under the supervision of the chief conservator of forests. It is informed that after the formation of the squads, there has been no report of illegal logging from the field thus far”.

However, as reported earlier in this daily, there have been numerous instances of logging in several places in the state, which have not been reflected by the forest department in its report. Instead, in its report, the PCCF (RE) says that after the formation of the squads, there has been no report of illegal logging from the field so far.

This daily can confirm that there have been reports of logging at several hotspots identified and have been reported by this daily. In fact, the police department has seized numerous loggings.

The illegal logging hotspots identified by the forest department are Bomdila, Khellong, Banderdewa, Pasighat, Namsai, Tezu, Jairampur, Changlang, Deomail and Roing.

Petitioner Jorjo Tana Tara says that the report submitted by the forest department is a “heap of lies.”

“Illegal logging is ongoing in all the hotspots identified, from Pasighat to Bomdila and Banderdewa to Changlang,” he says.

Tana says that he will move the Supreme Court if there is no tangible outcome in the next hearing, which is scheduled for 19 February.

On November last, the NGT had directed that the state “consider taking interim measures in view of the urgency of the situation, which may include induction of retired personnel of the forest department, as well as personnel of the state’s armed police… for patrolling the hotspots in the forest area.”

It had noted that the applicant (Jorjo Tana) has made a useful suggestion of identifying hotspots where the illegalities are rampant.

It further stated that the state may take measures to make use of the forest cover map prepared with the help of satellite imageries by the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun, of the very affected districts (hotspots) to observe the change in forest cover that has occurred over a time period of 10 years, which would be helpful in evolving an action plan to deal with this issue.

These two directions were not complied by the state government.

The NGT has directed the state to place tangible actions taken in terms of the proposals and also to address all the directions contained in the 9 November, 2020 order.

Jorjo Tana had sought the intervention of the NGT to stop illegal logging being carried out in Papum forest under the Khellong forest division. The Papum reserve forest comes under the buffer zone of the Pakke Tiger Reserve.