Hyderabad: More than a year later, a legal battle has come to an end. Reliance Jio has been told to pay Rs 10 lakhs as trees fell down during laying fibre line at Kurnool in 2018. The judgement in this regard was released on January 9.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) from New Delhi has directed the Chief conservator of forests Andhra Pradesh to impose a penalty against Reliance Jio for cutting the trees in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh to lay the underground Optic Fibre line from Nannoor to Veldurthy Village by ‘JIO-Reliance’.

In the month of October in 2018 NGT received the grievance and directed Divisional Forest Officer to furnish a factual and action report in the matter. After a month-long probe a report was submitted to NGT.

As per the report, about 125 avenue trees of species such as Kanuga, Seematangedu, Peltofurum and Neem on the left side of the road were cut down without any permission.

NGT opined that the cutting of trees adversely affects the environment and in such a situation the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle is applied as per the law. Subsequently directed Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Andhra Pradesh has been instructed to take appropriate action, particularly recovery of compensation as per the Net Present Value (NPV) principle which reportedly amounts to Rs 2 lakhs in 2019.

NGT further concluded that we are satisfied that there is no basis for limiting the amount of compensation to about Rs. 2 lakhs. Keeping the same in view NGT enhanced penalty from Rs 2 to 10 lakhs.

The NGT also added that the compensation amount of Rs. 10 lakh will be deposited within one month and the same to be spent by the Forest Department for the restoration of the area.

Social activists are demanding that there is a need to include technology to prevent cutting of trees. “Our Forest Department should come up with an app to report violations by citizens under Rules 4 and 5 of Andhra Pradesh( Protection of Trees and Timber in Public premises) Rules 1989 to protect trees,” said Mr Akshay Kumar, Social activists.

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