March 28:The transfer of 159 hectares of land to establish an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Jammu district has come under the scanner of National Green Tribunal’s scanner which has sought the government’s response on a plea claiming it was forest land.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Environment Ministry, Jammu and Kashmir government and others while seeking their reply by March 31.
The direction while hearing a plea by a Jammu native, Nigam Priye Saroop, who has challenged the transfer of 159 hectares of forest land to the Higher Education Department of the state government on the ground that it would damage the environment and ecology of the area.
Saroop, a law student, has contended that the transfer of the forest land is not “justified” when other vast stretches of waste and unproductive lands are available in abundance in Jammu and other districts like Rajouri, Udhampur and Samba for establishment of IIT.
Saroop has further claimed that the transfer of forest land will adversely affect the eco-sensitive zone of Ramnagar Wildlife Sanctuary which is natural wildlife habitat.
“The authorities have started mercilessly felling and axing thick forest without count which is not less than a disaster for the entire flora and fauna. It is likely to cause environmental and ecological damage beyond repair if the respondents are not prevented and injuncted to stop work in the forest land immediately…
“The Jammu Higher Education Department through its agents and contractors has started mercilessly felling the Green Gold forest trees and started destroying the habitat of wildlife even without any formal orders by any competent authority.. It requires immediate stoppage otherwise the entire forest belt of the area will be destroyed,” the plea alleged.