NGT constitues JC to probe damaging of green forest by horses at Kufri

Shimla, March 16

The National Green tribunal has passed an order to constitue a joint committee of Forest Department, official of minister of Environment, forest and climate change, pollution control board and district magistrate to probe the Environment degradation or damage being caused by the horse operators to the lush green forest of Kufri.
NGT bench comprising of Judicial member Sudhir Agarwal and Environment member Dr. A. Senthil Vel passed this order on the online Complaint filed by Mumbai based citizens on March 13.
The complainant alleged that he had informtion that Environment degradation being done under the nose of Forest Department and other authority. Complainant said that Kufri was the first place in
in India to be developed for alpine skiing sports by the Britishers. Country’s first winter sports club was established here. This was because of lush deodar forest around made it possible to have a lot of snowfall during winter months starting from late November till end of February.

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This not only ensured adequate water supply and moisture required for forest and fauna in the area but also continuous recharging of many natural sources of water in the area. However, due to callous attitude of State Authorities, rising number of horses and other local reasons, snowfall in the area is continuously declining for the last two decades. As a consequence thereof, water resources are drying.
Shimla town itself remains devoid of any snow for most of the winter season. In order to encourage skiing activities in the area and for augmenting tourism, several steps were taken but this also adversely affected ecological balance in the area. Presently, there are about 700-800 horses functioning in a small area of 8-10 Sq. Kms, in and around the tourist village of Kufri, which is at the
edge of a reserve forest and catchment. The uncontrolled movement of horses has irreparably damaged flora and fauna of this eco-system. It has damaged food chain in the area. Continuous plying of horses has severely damaged beautiful forest trails and is causing further damage to tree roots.
The local administration has made available a huge area as parking area for horses in the prohibited forest area. After day’s plying, the owners of these horses let the horses into the adjoining forests causing severe damage to deodar tree roots along with flora and fauna therein. One can see naked tree roots and drying trees and shrubs with heaps of stinking horse dung all over the area. Forest at a particular patch about one km from Kufri on the Chail Kufri Road has been severely damaged by the horse owners by making an illegal road by applying a JCB machine which was in the knowledge of the forest authorities but they have not taken any action in the matter. The complainant said that continuing degrading situation demands immediate action in the area as the forest and ecology, has been, will be severely damaged.
In our view, a substantial question relating to environment due to implementation of Scheduled Enactments under NGT Act, 2010 has arisen
but before taking any further action in the matter, said the NGT Bench. Adding that it found appropriate to obtain a factual report for which purpose, they constituted a joint Committee comprising Divisional Forest Officer, Shimla, Regional Officer, MoEF&CC, Chandigarh, State PCB and District Magistrate, Shimla who shall visit the site, collect relevant information and submit a factual as well as action taken report  within two months by e-mail at judicial- preferably in the form of searchable PDF/ OCR file. The State PCB will be nodal agency for coordination and compliance.
Matter is further listed for hearing for further consideration on 25.05.2023.


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