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201 Trees illegally felled in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district

201 Trees illegally felled in Himachal Pradesh's Una district

A status report submitted by the state to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on May 13, 2023, it came to light that a contractor felled or pruned 201 trees on the Daulatpur-Gagret Guglehad road in the district of One, Himachal Pradesh, without obtaining the necessary permits or following due process. This unauthorized act has resulted in significant damage to the environment.

In response, disciplinary action has been initiated against the rangers stationed in the area, and an FIR has been registered against the contractor involved. The report was submitted by a committee led by the NGT on July 4, 2022, to investigate the situation and recommend appropriate corrective action.

During their discussions, the committee explored the possibility of imposing environmental compensation for the incident. However, it was found that there is no standard guideline or provision for imposing such compensation in this particular case.

Unauthorized Tree Felling

Most of the affected trees are situated on land under the possession of the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (HPPWD). As a result, the committee recommended that HPPWD establish an appropriate mechanism for tree trimming located on its roadside land. Una’s deputy commissioner also provided a response to the NGT, endorsing the committee’s findings and conclusions.

The applicant informed the meeting that the felling of the trees was carried out by the contractor using JCB cutters and machinery, with the participation of officials from the H.P.P.W.D. Allegations were made about the complicity of forestry department officials in the incident.

The applicant also stated that while the police seized splitters and axes, they were unable to seize the JCB machinery or the tippers used for pruning branches and transporting the logs. The police registered an FIR only against the contractor, without filing any cases against the individuals in possession of the cut timbers.

In light of these developments, state authorities have taken action against all those responsible for the illegal activity and have ensured that further legal action will be taken in accordance with the law. The matter remains under the scrutiny of the NGT, with efforts underway to address the environmental damage caused by the unauthorized felling of trees.

Areas where trees cut down

Sr No. BeatNo. of TreesNo Branches found cutName of Range
1.Jadla59108Amb Range
2.MawaSindhian67115Amb Range
3.Badoh2836Amb Range
4.Gagret1844Amb Range

An FIR (No. 022) was registered on March 28, 2022 at the Gagret Police Station by an officer of the Forest Department in Gagret. The FIR reported the incident of illegal felling/pruning of approximately 387 branches of 201 trees located along the road, without obtaining any permission from the Forestry Department.

The Police Department filed a report stating that the FIR was registered under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 32 and 33 of the Indian Forest Act. The illegal logging/pruning was carried out by the Public Works Department (PWD) through a contractor without obtaining permission from the Forestry Department. The contractor, Rohit Jaswal, was arrested and later released on bail on May 11, 2022, after the bail statement was accepted by the court.

A report on the demarcation of cut trees from Saghnai to Deoli in Ghanari Tehsil was received on 17th August 2022. The report revealed that trees #1-6, 10-14, 15-18, 19-23, 24, 25, and 29 were located on property belonging to the HPPWD Department. Tree No. 7 was located on private land registered in the name of Kumari Shikha, and Trees No. 8 and 9 were located on private land registered in the name of Naresh Kumar.

On 3 September 2022, a demarcation report of the felled trees along the road from Guglehar to Ambota was received from the Department of Revenue. The report revealed that among the trees cut at Mawa Sindhia Nichli, trees No. 48, 51, 60, and 61 were located on land registered under the ownership of Gair Mumkin Sadak, Malkiyat Sarkar Himachal Pradesh and Kabja HPPWD Department.

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