Objections to the Joint Committee report on high power engines being used for cutting timber without license in Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts of Uttar Pradesh, 10/08/2022

Objections on behalf of the applicant (Uday Education & Welfare Trust) to the Joint Committee report, August 4, 2022.

An application was filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding the use of high power engines being operated without license from the forest department and consuming timber as their raw material without any restriction from the department in Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The NGT, March 23, 2022 directed a joint committee to look into the matter.

The committee inspected 12 units in district Muzaffarnagar and 24 units in Saharanpur district. From the report it is clear that all units were having chipper and cutter machines by using more than 26 HP power to 32 HP power. The applicant stated that the committee report does not state how and under which regulation these chipper machines were allowed to be operated. It is said that none of the units had any license of any machinery from the forest department. Thus, these units should have been closed down immediately, but no such action was taken by the committee.

The committee had recommended that the machines required to be inventorised and to be regulated by the forest department.

The applicant has pointed out that the forest department is issuing licenses to the chipper machines and has categorized these machines into the list of units which required license from the forest department for establishment and operation. The state of Uttar Pradesh has issued 1350 new wood based licensees wherein chipper machines were also one of the categories, which require license.

In the Joint Committee report the chipper machines have not been categorized under the category which require regulation.

The Supreme Court, April 29, 2022 has struck down the Notification, whereby mechanical devices using less than 3 HP in the state of Uttar Pradesh were exempted from obtaining license.

The committee report has not mentioned the fact that only small branches of the trees were being cut but also the grown trees having large diameter were being cut and found on the site.

The report is also silent on the fact that these machineries were being operated in the vicinity to the forest area in violation to the minimum distance restriction of 10 km from the nearest forest boundary as held by the Supreme Court. The committee has "wrongly and arbitrarily recommended that the fixed chipper machine may not be categorized as saw mill and may not be regularised," the report of August 10, 2022 said.