Environment-related crimes: India

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2014: Rajasthan, UP worst

The Times of India, Aug 20 2015

Trees and woods under attack

The city recorded the seventh-highest number of environment-related crimes in the country in 2014.Although it had only 41 cases, as against the worst performers Rajasthan (2,666) and Uttar Pradesh (1,442), none of the other Union Territories--including the densely forested and eco-sensitive islands of Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep--reported a single forest-related offence. While Delhi Police officials said they will look into the complaints data to find out the nature of forest offences, forest department officials said the offences are mostly related to encroachments on forest land. For instance, the department itself filed 3-4 FIRs for illegal occupation of land by farmhouses inside the Asola-Bhatti sanctuary . The case is being heard by National Green Tri bunal. “We do not have the power to take criminal cases.Forest offences are criminal in nature and taken up by police,“ said an official, adding, “There must be several cases of encroachment on urban forests like Rajokri or Rangpuri.“

Officials said some of the cases might have been registered under Delhi Preserva ion of Trees Act. Even excessive pruning of trees is an offence under DPTA.

Another 12 cases were registered under Wildlife Protection Act as Delhi is a ransit hub for illegal trade n wildlife. “There are so many seizures of birds, snakes and other animals being traded or illegally transported here,“ said an official from the wildlife section of the forest department. But animal rights activists said the number of cases does not reflect the extent of the problem.

“Wildlife crime and trade are rampant in Delhi. Animal parts from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are regularly transported and traded but the prosecution is so poor. Munias, endangered fish and turtles--all protected under the Act--are even home-delivered through online orders,“ said Gauri Maulekhi, member secretary , People For Animals (PFA).

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