Hassan: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday ordered a senior official of the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) regional office in Bengaluru to do a spot inspection of the Yettinahole project sites in Sakleshpur, Hassan district, on January 2 and 3 in the presence of the petitioner and submit a report to it on trees felled by January 14. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Swatenter Kumar gave the order while hearing the petition filed by Mr K N Somashekar opposing the Yettinahole project on the ground that the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (KNNL) had felled over 50,000 trees both on forest and private land for it already.
Advocates representing the KNNL, however, claimed that only 40 trees had been felled and 500 saplings planted in Compensatory Afforestation (CA). But advocate Isaac Prince, representing the petitioner, recalled that the Advocate General representing the Karnataka government had on a previous occasion said that 2,700 trees had been axed for the project and the tribunal had at the time asked KNNL to plant 27,000 saplings in Compensatory Afforestation.
Taking serious note of the point made by Mr Prince, Justice Kumar reprimanded the KNNL officials for not furnishing the right figures on the trees axed. “Have you come to New Delhi for a picnic?” he asked them angrily. The advocate for the state government then informed the NGT that 6,000 trees had been axed for the project and 3,000 saplings planted as compensation. Considering the conflicting figures presented, Justice Kumar ordered for a joint inspection of the project sites in January to assess the exact number of trees felled.