India: Despite Ban on Felling green trees they keep falling in Himachal state

A sweeping ban on green felling of trees in the state notwithstanding,more than a score of mighty deodar trees have been felled in the Kufri-Mashobra forests, which the authorities claim are for road building purposes. “It was tragic to see such majestic cedars felled on the Mashobra-Bekelti road,” says Vishal, who drove past wonderinghow the activity had been permitted. “The loggers at work claimed that the trees were being cleared to set up some project at the site,” he said.

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Higher up in the hill where the forest clears along the ridge is The
Retreat, summer residence of the President of India and close by is
the summer cottage that Priyanka Vadra is constructing. Inquiries with
Theog forest division revealed that a road from Kaloh Nallah to Jahu
village was being constructed in the area.

“Permission to fell about 330 trees, which included saplings, had been granted and logging was being done by the state forest corporation,” said Sant Ram, the concerned forest ranger. Vishal contested the claim saying that a motorable road to Jahu village already exists that has been extended for Cher village.

Cher is an old pumping station, which supplies drinking water to the Shimla water supply scheme. “The trees have been felled at a point where there is a steep fall in the middle of a forest and not a likely starting point for a new road,” said Vishal.

Close to the tree felling site is a stone quarry, where extraction
operations are going on and has caused substantial damage to the
forest lands around. RS Chauhan, divisional manager forest corporation
when contacted said that the forest department had handed over the
lumbering task to them only after permission to fell the trees had
been obtained from the central ministry of environment and forests
(MOEF).

Tikender Panwar, president Himachal Kisan Sabha fresh from
having led an agitation in Kinnaur about forest rights for the people
says, “successive governments have been working against the people.
While they are being debarred from their forest rights, green felling
is being permitted for influential people and industry.”

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