NGT orders interim stay on felling of coconut trees in Agatti Island  08/02/2020 09:58:20 

An aerial view of Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep. File photo  

The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has granted an interim stay on felling of coconut trees in Agatti Island in Lakshadweep for the purpose of forming a beach road. It has constituted a committee to find out whether there has been any violation of the Integrated Island Management Plan of Lakshadweep .

The bench of Justice K. Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta directed the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and the Lakshadweep Public Works Department to maintain status quo as of July 30 and not cut any more coconut trees till the next hearing in November.

The applicant, Agatti Island Kera Karshaka Sanghom, moved the Tribunal alleging that the administration was indiscriminately cutting down coconut trees for forming a beach road, which was against the Integrated Island Management Plan of Lakshadweep formulated on the basis of the report of the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court and headed by former Judge of Supreme Court of India Justice R.V. Raveendran.

The applicant submitted that due to the large scale cutting of the coconut trees for the project, the local residents lost their income. It would also affect the environment as trees, standing along the coastline, acted as a green belt to protect the land during cyclones and other natural calamities.

Directing the committee appointed by it to investigate the issue thoroughly, the bench also asked it to find out if there was any violation and to assess the environmental compensation, fixing the responsibility of recovery of compensation from the person responsible for the same.

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