Allahabad HC warns of ‘coercive proceedings’ against two officials

Agra, Feb 25 (IANS) The Allahabad High Court has warned of ‘coercive proceedings’ against two senior officials while hearing a public interest litigation to save the forest land around the famous Soor Sarovar bird sanctuary on the Delhi-Agra national highway.

The Taj Trapezium Zone Authority chairman as well as the principal chief conservator of forests have been told to be personally present in the chief justice’s court or face coercive proceedings.

The two officials had neither filed replies nor appeared before the court despite directions on January 4 and 27.

According to lawyer Sundeep Agarwal, the high court vide its February 23 order placed on notice the two respondents that if they “do not file their reply by the next date of hearing (March 18), the court will be constrained to invoke its jurisdiction under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, by directing them to show cause why steps be not taken for punishing them for contempt”.

Petitioner-environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya told IANS that the forest land around the Keetham Lake was under encroachment. The officials had arbitrarily reduced the eco-sensitive boundary of the lake forest from 10 km to just 250 metres to help the construction of a leather park, he said.

A notification is yet to be issued in respect of this eco-sensitive buffer zone between the Mathura Oil Refinery and the world heritage monument the Taj Mahal, for whose conservation and protection from pollution a series of initiatives have been taken.

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