Volume 2 Issue 7

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Sikkim High Court issues directives on the indiscriminate felling of trees for Gangtok smart City Project

Date of News: 


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Name of the Author: 

Nashrah Fatma

Field of Law: 

Environmental Law

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The Sikkim High Court recently issued directives to the Forest, Environment, and Wildlife Management Department of the Sikkim Government for effective forest tree management in Gangtok. A Suo Motu PIL filed on the basis of a letter petition filed by a Gangtok resident on the subject of tree felling in Gangtok was dismissed by the Division Bench of Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai and Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan. Amicus Curiae Jorgay Namka argued that the Forest Department had a duty to obtain clearance from the Central Government for felling of trees, which the concerned officers purposefully avoided because no clearance would have been granted by the Central Government. The Court stated that it is every citizen's obligation to be aware of such issues and to ensure that everyone of us plays an active role in ensuring the conservation of trees and only felling them when there is no other option. Every effort should be taken to build alongside or around the tree, with the goal of preserving it. The Court also emphasized the importance of balancing development with forest preservation. The Court directed the Forest Department to immediately develop policy guidelines which shall govern decision making with respect to the Auction of felled trees. It further directed that Eco-sensitive areas shall be given due consideration when felling of trees is unavoidable and imperative and no tree or pole shall be unnecessarily felled for the personal enrichment of any person. The High Court revoked the stay order dated June 29, 2020, which directed the State Government not to cut any more trees, in the hope and faith that all parties involved will refrain from unnecessary tree felling as part of the Smart City Project.