MANEKA GANDHI Vs. STATE OF J AND K
HIGH COURT OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR
STATE OF J AND K
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(1.) A communication was received from Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, environmentalist, complaining of mushroom growth of Charcoal Bhatties in Kathua district and the damage caused by these bhatties to the forests and environment, within the District. She has submitted that there was no regulation for setting up or running of these Bhatties and that it was free for all to set up these Bhatties, which resulted in damage to the forest and all Bhatti owners were resorting to smuggling of trees from the forest, which has resulted in drying up of the water resources in the Kandi area of Katua belt, which area was already short of requisite water resources.
(2.) THIS communication was treated as public interest litigation and concerned official functionaries, including the Principal Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Chairman Pollution Control Board and Divisional Forest Officer, Kathua, were put on notice and were required to give their response to the complaint made by Mrs. Maneka Gandhi. In compliance thereto, all these officers have appeared before the Court and response/reply has been filed by PCCF and DFO, Kathua as also the Member Secretary of the Pollution Control Board.
It has been admitted by these officials that though all these Bhatties are located on the private land but these were in close vicinity of demarcated forest. It has also been admitted by them that there are no regulation in force to control these Bhatties , which, admittedly were a source of damage to the forests and the environment. It is, submitted, however, that the Forest Department had taken steps and had requested the government for enacting a statutory Regulation to control the felling and transportation of timber and, manufacture and sale of Charcoal to save the Kandi Belt of District Kathua.;
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