Report filed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab on illegal axing of trees in Ludhiana, 01/06/2023

Taking into consideration a petition filed against illegal axing of trees in Ludhiana, the National Green Tribunal vide order, March 17, 2023 directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Punjab to look into the matter and take remedial action and file an action taken report to the court within two months.

A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Chief Conservator of Forest (Plains), Punjab. The committee submitted its report to the NGT, June 1, 2023.

All heads of the responding departments/institutions have been informed to take remedial measures as per recommendations of the committee by incorporating the same in their working to safeguard the environment. They have been requested to frame and draft law/rules in departmental procedure to ensure necessary legal backing in this regard.

The committee found that presently there was no legal provision or any mechanism in place with the respondent departments/institutions to penalize the offenders involved in illicit felling/lopping/pruning/pollarding of trees.

The only remedy presently available to the departments and institutions is lodging of a police complaint/FIR for tree offences, whereas there is need for a legal enabling mechanism in place to impose fines and prosecute offenders in the court by the authorities, the report said.

All respondent departments and institutions except Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana have completed the census of trees along with numbering within their jurisdiction.  Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana has given an assurance to complete the enumeration work by December 31, 2023.

The report pointed out that the desired surveillance mechanism to check illicit axing/pollarding/pruning is still needed, especially in case of trees standing in open public places, roads, parks etc.