GUWAHATI, March 28 - The Department of Environment and Forest of the State is yet to send the copy of the notification that declared Deopahar a reserve forest, to the Directorate of Printing and Stationery for getting it printed in the Assam Gazette.
This has come to light from the reply of the Directorate of Printing and Stationery to an RTI query made by environment activist Bimal Gogoi of Golaghat.
The Directorate of Printing and Stationery told Gogoi that it has not received the copy of the State government’s notification (No. FRW 4/2018/25, dated 19/01/2019) that declared Deopahar in Bokakhat subdivision of Golaghat district as a reserve forest.
Hence, the Directorate told Gogoi that the publication of the above order/notification in the Assam Gazette ‘does not arise’.
It needs to be mentioned here that the State government declared Deopahar a reserve forest through the above notification under Section 17 of the Assam Forest Regulation, 1891.
In the said notification, it was stated that Deopahar would become a reserve forest ‘with effect from the date of publication of this notification in the official gazette’.
The reserve forest status to Deopahar was notified following a protracted battle fought by the environment activists of the State.
Deopahar was notified as a proposed reserve forest (PRF) in August 1999. After around 20 years of that notification, Deopahar was declared a reserve forest with the above stipulation for the notification coming into effect.
The failure of the State government to send the notification for gazette notification has drawn flak from environment activists here.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had on August 24, 2016 directed the State government to notify Deopahar PRF as a reserve forest under Section 17 of the Assam Forest Regulations, 1891.
The NGT direction came in the wake of the case filed by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury (Miscellaneous Application No. 787/2015 and 1006/2015 in Original Application Number 38/2011) versus Union of India and Others.
The NGT said it was necessary to notify Deopahar as a reserve forest to prevent further loss to it.