The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department will move the Supreme Court against NGT’s February order quashing provisional licences issued by the Uttar Pradesh government for establishing new wood-based industries in the state. NGT had quashed government’s licences saying hardly any timber will be available for these units. Due to the licences issued, industry stakeholders had invested significant capital on machines, land acquisition and other infrastructure. NGT’s order was a big setback for the state government which was trying to attract huge investment in wood based industries in the state.
In the notice issued on March 1, 2019, the UP government had proposed to issue licences for 1,350 new wood-based industries. However, a PIL filed last year had complained that the state government’s permission to set up new wood-based units in the state may lead to clandestine cutting of trees on large scale. As a result, the prospective investors had to keep their investments plans on hold pending decision by the NGT. For example, Century Plyboard, a leading plywood and MDF manufacturer, decided to keep its capex plans in UP on hold for the time being. Earlier the company was planning to invest Rs 400-500 crore in Uttar Pradesh in wood-based industry. The company had proposed for building fungible capacity of MDF (600 CBM per day) and particle board (900 CBM per day) in UP.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said if new industries are allowed to open based on wrong estimation of availability of timber, it may result in clandestine supply of wood and illegal cutting of trees. Such a situation may not be allowed to come up in view of ‘precautionary’ principle of environmental law, it said.