National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal: In the instant matter, a 3-member bench comprising of Prakash Shrivastava, J., (Chairperson), Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) and Dr. Afroz Ahmad (Expert Member), took suo motu cognizance based on a news article titled “Land grab in Telangana forests shrink space for big cats” published in ‘The Times of India’ on 04-02-2024, highlighting encroachments on forest land in Telangana and their adverse effects on the environment and wildlife.

The news report “Land grab in Telangana forests shrink space for big cats” disclosed encroachments on forest land in Telangana by tribals for Podu cultivation, a form of shifting cultivation practiced by tribes. The report highlighted that 24.7% of Telangana’s area is under forests, and due to activities, such as mining, tree cutting, and infrastructure expansion, the forest area is declining, leading to a decrease in the tiger population. The article alleged that the Telangana Government had accepted 15254 claims under the Forest Rights Act in Asifabad and issued Pattas for 44750 acres of forest land to tribals. The report also claimed that illegal forest felling for Podu cultivation has led to reduction of the tiger corridor area, causing territorial conflicts among tigers.

The NGT took suo motu cognizance and impleaded the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (HoFF), Telangana; Chief Wildlife Warden, Telangana; and District Collector & Magistrate, Adilabad, as respondents. The respondents requested four weeks to file a reply and NGT directed the same to be submitted at least one week before the next hearing. The NGT transferred the case to the Southern Zonal Bench, Chennai, given its relevance to the region, with the original records transferred accordingly. The next date of hearing is listed before Southern Zonal Bench at Chennai on 26-04-2024.

[News item titled “Land grab in Telangana forests shrink space for big cats” appearing in The Times of India dated 04.02.2024, 2024 SCC OnLine NGT 287, order dated 15-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. H. Yasmeen Ali, Counsel for the State of Telangana (Through VC)

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