HYDERABAD: Making it clear to the state, centre and the Indian Navy that they cannot cut a single tree till they filed their counters on what they are proposing to do with the fragile ecosystem at Damagundam forest near Vikarabad in Ranga Reddy district, the Telangana high court ordered status quo on the Navy’s Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radar project proposed to be set up in Damagundum reserve forest area.

The project is being set up by the Eastern Naval Command. The bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy wondered as to how the forest department could allow construction of a low-frequency radar in a forest area while hearing a PIL filed by Damagundam Forest Protection joint action committee. Agreeing with the apprehensions expressed by S Spandana Reddy, the counsel for the petitioner, the bench directed the authorities to make sure that not a single tree is cut in the area till further orders. CJ also asked the petitioner to make the revenue department as a respondent to the case since it was they who allotted land to the project.

“We understand the defence of the country is crucial and is an important aspect, but the environment is also our concern,” the Chief Justice said. Everyone knows that low frequency affects the wildlife, the flora and fauna and the forest ecology adversely, he said. It is surprising that the forest department agreed to the idea of ELF Radar in the area without Navy obtaining environment clearance, the CJ said. Assistant solicitor general N Rajeswara Rao urged the bench to restrict the status quo for a few days, but the bench has made it clear that it will remain there till the centre and other authorities file their counters. The case was adjourned to four weeks.