An inquiry has been ordered Into the illegal felling of khair trees worth more than Rs 10 crore at Mirzapur in SAS Nagar district after HT highlighted the matter on Friday.
Punjab rural development and panchayat director C Siben on Monday entrusted the investigation to SAS Nagar additional deputy commissioner (general) and gave him a month to file report. HT had zeroed in on three officials for their role in giving consent to the felling in the Shivalik hills. The land on which the trees were cut in February and March had been given away under illegal deals in the state, a case that Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal is looking into.
SAS Nagar district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Gurinder Singh Sarao; district forest officer (DFO) Tejinder Singh, and naib tehsildar naib tehsildar Tarsem Singh Sharma are the officials under the lens. Financial commissioner (revenue) (FCR) Karan Avtar Singh has initiated a separate inquiry into the role of the revenue officials, including the naib tehsildar.
The HT team in Mirzapur spotted a resort coming up on a cleared land in the prohibited Shivalik forest hills.
It spotted a concrete boundary wall, some canopies, besides a deep bore-well along a seasonal rivulet emerging from a forest hillock. Asked about it, Majri block forest range officer Gurman Singh said the resort was coming up on an area “de-listed” from the Punjab Land Protection Act (PLPA). His version contradicts Section 4 of the PLPA that bars any concrete structure in the area.
Gurman Singh agreed that he was still the custodian of the reserved forest, and was yet to see any written permission for the construction. “We have reported the matter to GMADA (Greater Mohali Area Development Authority), is responsible for any such construction, but it hasn’t replied, so far,” he said. The local villagers were tightlipped about the ownership of the upcoming resort, whose boundary wall is on the riverbed hardly 10 metres away.