Warded off

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has stayed the granting of lease to the J K Industries-owned Central Pulp Mill to extract bamboo from Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary in Bharuch district of Gujarat. The CEC was responding to an application filed by ARCH, a Gujarat-based non-governmental organisation.

The lease violated the Supreme Court order dated February 14, 2000, which not only prohibits felling of trees in sanctuaries, national parks and forests, but also removal of dead, dying or fallen trees. Interestingly, the private firm had been granted a 10-year lease by the chief wildlife warden under section 29 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, on the pretext that it would be beneficial to wildlife. The official's order had, predictably, caused a furore with allegations of foul play being levelled.