Supreme Court to examine plea on Forest Fires in Uttarakhand

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On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to examine a plea to direct the Uttarakhand government to take measures to prevent forest fires causing large-scale destruction of flora and fauna in the hill State.

A Bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde was initially reluctant to entertain the petition filed by Rituparn Uniyal, who wants the entire wildlife in the region to be declared a living entity.

“It is the need of the hour that the concept of legal/juristic personality needs a wide interpretation to include in it the whole ecosystem with both biotic and abiotic components of environment… Animals breathe like us and have emotions, intelligence, culture, language, memory and co-operation,” the plea said.

Though, early in the hearing, the Bench asked the petitioner to approach the State High Court, it later agreed with alacrity to hear the case as soon as next week when informed that the High Court had already passed a series of protective directions in 2016, but without avail due to the government’s inattentiveness.

Mr. Uniyal alleged that despite a consistent history of forest fires, “the ignorance, inactiveness, negligence and unreadiness of the respondents have rendered a great loss to forests, wildlife and birds in Uttarakhand and thus, caused ecological imbalance”.

He asked the court to frame a policy to prevent forest fires and make pre-fire arrangements. It is one of the major disasters in the forests of Uttarakhand, Mr. Uniyal, a native of the State, said.

“Every year, forest fires cause great loss to the forest ecosystem, diversity of flora and fauna and economic wealth,” he said.

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