The National Green Tribunal (NGT):
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months and directed a joint committee to prepare an action plan in a month.
- The court also said the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.
- The Maldhari community had filed a case against the rampant encroachment in the ecologically sensitive grassland in May 2018.
- Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community in Gujarat, India.
- Maldhari community breeds Banni Buffaloes, a species endemic to the region. The buffaloes are adaptive to Kutch’s hot weather conditions.
- Banni grassland is spread over 2,618 kilometres and accounts for almost 45 per cent of the pastures in Gujarat.
- It comprises 48 hamlets/villages organized into 19 panchayats, with a population of about 40,000.
- Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are juxtaposed in Banni.
- The area is rich in flora and fauna, with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.