New panel to review previous findings on private forest land in Goa
The Goa government has set up a three-member committee to review the findings of high-level panels formed earlier to identify private forest lands in the coastal state.The move comes after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on August 8 imposed a fine of ₹10,000 per day from July 2019 on the State government, till it submits the report on private forest land.The Government, in a notification issued on August 24, said a three-member panel will have to review the findings of the Karapurkar and Sawant committees (set up earlier) and submit its report within three months on the exact quantum of private forest land existing in Goa. This is the second review committee formed by the State government. In April last year, the Government constituted a similar committee which reviewed reports of the Karapurkar and Sawant committees, identifying 42.12 sqkm of land in Goa as private forest. However, the BJP-led State government last month rejected that review panel’s report, claiming the “aggrieved people were not heard by the review committee“.In the notification issued last week, State undersecretary (Forest) Shaila Bhosle said, “The committee has been constituted to finalise the report on private forests submitted by the review committee, after considering the objections of the affected parties whose properties are going to be identified as private forests.” The committee should consider the objections of the affected parties and submit a report before the time limit prescribed by the NGT, she said. The NGT allowed a final extension of three months for submission of the report, subject to deposit of a performance guarantee of ₹1 crore to the satisfaction of the Central Pollution Control Board. Last month, the then state Forest Minister Vijai Sardesai said it was incorrect to be assumptive about demarcation of land as forest, and people should be consulted before finalising the report. He said many a times, a land owner is not even consulted or informed before his assets get marked as a private forest, depending on a survey. He said that the stratified random sampling method adopted for the survey was not acceptable as the actual position should be known before marking the forest.