A Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report has revealed that in Madhya Pradesh over 68,000 trees below the prescribed girth were felled from 2010-11 to 2014-15, taking sheen off the International Day of Forests celebrated by the forest department on Monday.
Forest working plans allow felling of mature and ill-formed trees of fixed girth to obtain optimum volume of timber. The prescribed girth is fixed by factoring the climatic region, the species among other factors. Felling trees below the selected girth is prohibited, except in cases they were dead, dying or diseased.
The CAG report, tabled in the state assembly recently, said that in 10 of the 12 forest divisions in the state, over 1.04 lakh saal, teak and other species were felled from 2010-11 to 2014-15. Of these, 68,940 trees, nearly 65% of the felled trees, were below the selected girth. The record books also did not mention if the trees were dead, dying or diseased.
The report also stated that trees were being felled in excess in the state, which gave the forest department Rs 22.8 crore revenue, but did not take care of the environmental impact.
The report says that while executing the forest working plans, the district forest officers did not account for the illicit felling and felling mandated under Forest Conservation Act, which resulted in excess felling.
Forest produce seized for illicit felling between 2010 and 2015 were found short on transportation to the depots, resulting in loss of Rs 64.8 lakh
E-auctioning not implemented even after nine years after its contemplation that incurred an expenditure of Rs 19.9 lakh
Forest produce lying in depots due to court cases was up to 33 year old, which was leading to a loss of nearly Rs 7 crore.
The forest department also did not record the data regarding the quantity of minerals extracted and transported through forest area from the mining department. This resulted in short recovery of transit fee for transportation of minerals by Rs 12.2 crore.