Power of Gujarat to frame forest policy: HC issues notices to state govt, Centre
The Indian Express
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Central and state governments on a petition challenging the power of the state government to frame environment policy. The petitioner, a resort based in Gir forest area land of Asiatic lions, has contended that the policy pertaining to environmental law is a subject matter of Central government.
The division bench, led by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, issued notices to the state and Central government for their response by June 14 after summer vacation. The petition has been filed by Saavaj Resort through lawyer Hemang Shah.
According to Shah, rule-5 of section 3 of environment (protection) act states that the state government doesn't have power to make any policy. He said that in 2011 such guidelines were laid down by the authorities and therefore the government's proposed policy for the forest suffers from legal validity.
In July, 2015, the state government had submitted the draft of a uniform policy on commercial establishments in the Gir forest before the Gujarat High Court (HC) on a suo motu petition against illegal and haphazard constructions in and around the reserved forest areas. The new policy brought relief to existing units, mostly hotels and resorts which were facing legal action following the petition. The government has given big relief to the existing establishments inside the eco-sensitive zone from 0 km to 10 km who enjoy status quo, but those constructed without permission and clearances will be brought down. The draft policy is pending with the Central government for final approval. The suo motu petition is also pending with the High Court which is likely to be clubbed with this petition.