The Supreme Court (SC), on May 8 and 9,
issued its latest order on the issue of the ban on non-forest, activities in the country. On December 12,1996, the apex court had imposed a blanket ban on the movement of timber within and from the northeast to any part of the country (Down To Earth Vol 5, No 24). Subsequently, a high-powered committee was sent to review the impact of the ban on the economies of the northeastern states.
The SC in its four page order stated that while the ban on felling and transportation of trees and timber with regard to the northeastern states shall continue "after the process of inventorisation is over, the high-powered committee may permit saw mills and other wood-based industries to utilise their own legitimate stocks of timber for conversion into finished produce". The order further elaborated that "the permission granted by the committee to these mills shall be on suitable terms to ensure that no malpractice occurs in the future and the mills shall be required to file an undertaking to comply with such terms. Any breach of such terms would have the same consequence as breach of the order of the court."
The order adds that after the inventory of the felled timber gathered at the depots /storage points is complete, the committee may permit the sale of such rounded timber for utilisation within the state to the extent it is from a lawful source " , and only the movement of finished products within and outside the state under transit permits, "Which will be under the overall supervision of the high-powered committee."
In another significant move, the court put a ban on the free entry to any reserve forest stating that "no person other than a local inhabitant, a forest officer of a police officer or any other personnel on duty shall be permitted to enter any reserve forest except in accordance with permission in wiring issued by the principal chief conservator of forest."
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