The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has granted an interim stay on felling of coconut trees on Agatti Island in Lakshadweep for the purpose of forming a beach road. The Tribunal has constituted a committee to find out whether there has been any violation of the Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP) approved by the Lakshadweep Administration.
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 coconut trees for a beach road, which was against the IIMP. The IIMP for Lakshadweep was formulated on the basis of a report submitted by the Supreme Court-appointed Expert Committee, headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran, former judge of the SC.
The applicant submitted that due to the large scale cutting of the coconut trees, local residents were not only affected by losing income but also face environmental disaster as the trees on the coastline act as a green belt to protect the rest of the island during cyclones and other natural calamities.
Directing the committee appointed by it to investigate the issue thoroughly and probe any violation, the NGT asked the panel to assess the quantum of environmental compensation. The Tribunal said the recovery of compensation would be from the person responsible for the damage.
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