India– The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh over raging forest fires in the two states, while also expressing shock that the matter was being taken “casually” by everybody.
The bench also questioned the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on what they have done to control the situation. “What have you (MoEF) done regarding the fire? It shocks us. Everybody is taking it so casually,” said the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The bench also asked the two states about the precautionary measures they have prepared to deal with the infernos. “What is your preparedness to prevent such incidents?” the bench asked.
“Issue notices to the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to show cause about the forest fires that have occurred in both the states,” said the bench, adding that the concerned secretaries should file their affidavits in this regard on the next date of hearing on May 10.
The order came while the NGT was hearing a petition filed by a Delhi-based NGO against alleged ‘unregulated operations’ of rafting camps in Rishikesh and other areas on the banks of river Ganga.
The green panel also directed the MoEF to give details about steps taken to prevent fire outbreaks. The bench also said that it wanted to know the specific causes of fire in the two states, said Rahul Chaudhary, one of the advocates representing the petitioner.
Raging infernos have engulfed stretches of forests in Uttarakhand. Two IAF choppers and over 10,000 personnel have been deployed to douse the flames.