Around 30 trees were felled on a one-acre plot, located just 300 metres from the Mangar police station, on Wednesday. This comes a day after the forest department lodged an FIR against a land owner in Mangar village for chopping nearly 25 trees in the protected zone on Sunday.
The plots are part of the protected Aravallis area, as notified by the Ministry of environment and forests, and cutting of trees here without permission is prohibited.
Although the forest department confirmed that violators tried to fence the area which had holes dug in it, possibly to install poles, they refuted claims that trees were pruned or cut.
Environment activists said pruning of trees was the first step in clearing up an area for construction activities.
This is the fourth such incident in the Mangar area in the last two months. On Tuesday, the forest department registered an FIR against a land owner in Mangar village for axing 20-25 trees in the area on Sunday (January 10). However, no arrest has been made yet.
The accused, identified as Devraj Kamboj, was also booked for cutting around 500 trees in the same area in December 2015.
When an HT team visited the spot, they found chopped trees lying along the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road. It was also evident that the violators were trying to level the land on Sunday night as soil, which is not indigenous to the area, was dumped on the plot. White limestone powder was also used to demarcate the plot where the trees had been chopped.
According to villagers, the trees pruned and axed were mostly thick vilayati kikar or prosopis juliflora.
“The police and the district town planner (enforcement) have to support the forest department in their initiatives to protect the forest. The district administration should also make it a priority that activities like these do not happen in protected zones,” Col SS Oberoi, an environment activist, said.
Conservator of forest of (Gurgaon circle) MD Sinha said the series of incidents indicated that there was a planned attempt to clear the area and mark out a plot for construction activity.
After the latest incident, the forest department is mulling construction of permanent check post in Mangar.
“I have asked the guards to be vigilant as we suspect that these violators will attempt to clear more area in the coming days. Two guards each will be deployed round the clock,” Sinha said.
The short-staffed forest department will also seek help from the police to keep a watch. “I will meet the city police commissioner tomorrow and discuss the issue with him,” Sinha added.
The forest department is also planning to have cameras installed in the area.