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Assam Rifles to carry mega plantation at Cherrapunji: Amit Shah

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Shillong, July 25 Meghalaya’s Cherrapunji, once credited as the wettest place on Earth, would be adopted by Assam Rifles for an ambitious plantation drive to restore the lost greenery in the world-famous spot, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday.

With the plantation of lakhs of saplings, an ambitious project to make Cherrapunji green again has started on Sunday, he said, noting that Cherrapunji used to have rains throughout the year, but due to indiscriminate tree-felling in the name of development, the situation has changed over the years.

“In Cherrapunji, trees were felled for fuel and other uses. Hence, 80 per cent of the total land would be planted with traditional and long lifespan trees, and the remaining 20 per cent would be used for animal feed, ornamental plants, and nurseries. These plantation strategies would meet all the requirements and help reduce the felling of long lifespan trees,” he said after launching the “Green Sohra Afforestation Campaign” at Sohra (Cherrapunji) on the second day of his visit to Meghalaya.

Giving the slogan of “Evergreen Northeast”, Shah underlined the importance of afforestation and tree plantation.

On Sunday as part of the tree plantation and mega afforestation drive launched at his initiative, a record number of 16.31 lakh saplings were planted.

“With this technique, multi-level farming is done and the forest grows 30 times faster and after three years, it becomes free of maintenance. Eco-tourism would be greatly benefited by this, besides tourism of Meghalaya would also get a boost,” the Home Minister added.

Cherrapunji, 58 km south of Shillong, is a tourism hot spot and the area’s once year-round rain earned it a place into the Guinness World Records as the wettest place on earth.

Noting that the Assam Rifles have a history of completing whatever work that has been given to them in the last 180 years in time, he said that all the Central Armed Police Forces are planting trees across the country.

He said that since the last two years, they are also shouldering the responsibility of improving the environment and so far have planted 1.48 crore trees, out of which 1.36 crore plants are growing. This year also, about one crore saplings would be planted in different areas and in Cherrapuji, a target has been set to plant 10 lakh trees in 1,000 hectares in the next three years.

Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) G. Kishen Reddy, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Space Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for DoNER B.L. Verma, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, among others, were also present on the occasion.

Environment

6.1 magnitude quake strikes Japan’s Tokyo, no tsunami warning

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Tokyo, Oct 8: An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale on late Thursday struck Japan’s Tokyo region, but no tsunami warning has been issued, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The temblor occurred at around 10.41 p.m. local time, with its epicenter at a latitude of 35.6 degrees north and a longitude of 140.1 degrees east, and at a depth of 80 km.

The quake logged 5 plus in some parts of Tokyo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.

According to utility officials, as of around 11.00 p.m. local time, the earthquake had triggered a blackout affecting around 250 households in Tokyo.

Some train services including subways operated by Tokyo Metro Co and shinkansen bullet trains had been suspended following the earthquake, railway companies said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters late on Thursday he had ordered officials to help quake victims and prevent further damage.

A task force to assess and monitor the earthquake’s impact has been set up at the prime minister’s office.

According to prefectural government officials, no abnormalities have been detected at Japan Atomic Power Co’s Tokai No 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture near Tokyo.

There were no reports of damage at Narita airport in Chiba, east of Tokyo after the strong quake.

Runways at Tokyo’s Haneda airport were temporarily closed for inspections, but later reopened as no damage was reported.

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NGT can take suo moto cognisance of environmental issues, rules SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Anand Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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Environment

NGT has powers to take suo moto cognisance on environmental issues: SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7. The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Arvind Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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