Forest Land Grab by infrastructure Company in Keounjhar under NGT lens

Bhubaneswar: The petition numbering Original application No 38/2018/Eastern Zone filed by local tribal villagers of Keounjhar before National Green Tribunal, Kolkata alleging that grabbing of tribal forest land, felling of trees and unauthorized use of around 46 acres of Forest Land in PLOT NO 198, KHATA NO 123, KISAM JUNGLE in Bayapandadhar Village in Keounjhar District of Odisha by one Private Company M/s Monte Carlo. The company had set up it’s Camp Office, Concrete Mix Plant, Bitumen Hot Mix Asphalt, Stone Crusher over forest land without any approval from Central Government as required under Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act 1980.

Apart from the government forest land, the private company has fraudulently grabbed forest land which were titled in favour of local tribal community members under forest rights act. As such the land titled under Forest Rights Act can not be transferred to any other person or company and in this case the same has been grabbed unlawfully by means of power of attorney,

The petitioners have alleged that In this regard No action has been taken by the State Respondents like District Collector, DFO and MoEFCC as on date and prayed the NGT to restrain the Private Company from Using and changing the land use of the Land in question, restoring the land to its Original Status, Exemplary Penalty and compensation for damage to the forest land and appropriate action against the state respondents for their inaction.
Local villagers from Bayapandadhar and Bayakumutia villages namely Niranjan Pradhan, Khageswar Juang, Sanatan Juang, Mitrabhanu Pradhan, Pala Fadukar and Bimal Senapati has approached the National Green Tribunal at Kolkata for appropriate action against the private company.

NGT Bench comprising of Justice S P Wangdi and Dr Nagin Nanda, Upon Hearing the Advocate for petitioners Mr Sankar Prasad Pani, on 9th October 2018 has asked the District Collector and DFO Keounjhar, Member Secretary Odisha State Pollution Control Board to inquire into the allegation and take appropriate action in case the allegation are found to be correct. Tahasildar, Banspal, Secretary, Forest and Environment Department, Odisha, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt of India and M/s Monte Carlo a Gujurat based company engaged for widening of National Highway has been arrayed as parties and notices have been issued to all these respondents to file their replies. The next date has been fixed to 19th November for replies and action taken report by the District Collector and DFO.

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