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SC slams UP government for 26 years’ silence on forest land

SC slams UP government for 26 years’ silence on forest land

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for allowing private claims on forest lands in contravention of the apex court’s order of July 1994.

The court’s remarks came while hearing the Uttar Pradesh government plea seeking a blanket order for quashing all the orders passed by Forest Settlement Officers from 1994 onwards, allowing industries to operate in the Renukoot-Mirzapur reserve forest area.

The Supreme Court had, in July 1994, ordered that no person or industry could encroach the reserved forest land.

The Uttar Pradesh government told the top court that over 1,000 industries and individuals had laid claim to the reserved forest land.

Criticising the state government, the court said: “You keep sleeping. The State has been sleeping for 26 years and now you want us to pass ex-parte order to remove everyone.”

The top court warned the state government that this would have “serious repercussions” and said it would like to hear the allottees as well.

The court pulled up the state government for not having disciplinary control over its officials. It asked the government to ascertain if the Forest Settlement Officers are still passing orders and granting claims to the forest land.

The court directed the government to give a list of all the industries and units which have been granted land illegally in forest areas.

The state government has sought to declare null and void all such orders passed after July 18, 1994, by the Forest Settlement Officers and Additional District Judges.

The government has also prayed for setting aside the orders in favour of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL) and others by the Forest Settlement Officers and Additional District Judge as being illegal.

The plea has also sought to set aside such orders in which the claim had already been adjudicated and fresh claims for the same land are being made by third parties.

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