As many as 40 trees were uprooted in Sikanderpur forest area on Tuesday morning. The trees were cleared from an area of nearly one acre, which comes under the general Section 4 of Punjab Land Preservation Act, according to which tree felling without permission in such areas is an offence.
Forest department and municipal corporation of Gurugram (MCG) were not aware of the incident and both send teams to check the situation and stop the activity after residents in the area lodged a complaint.
This large-scale tree felling is a blatant violation of the strict orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to maintain status quo in the Aravallis.
“We have no information regarding any tree felling activity in the area. We have sent our team to stop the illegal activity in Sikanderpur green belt,” said MD Sinha, conservator of forest, South Haryana.
The forest department has also written to the MCG seeking clarification on the incident and also asked the agency to fence the green area located near DLF Phase-1.
The 130-acre area was supposed to be transferred to the forest department by the MCG in exchange of land in Bhandwari waste treatment plant. At present, the MCG owns the land.
The MCG, in July 2015, had agreed to transfer land to the forest department for the development of a forest. This area is opposite the Aravali Biodiversity Park. However, because of lack of will on the part of the civic body, it has not yet transferred the land to the forest department.
“We had a plan to construct a cycle track in the area, however, the plan is not yet approved as the MCG is supposed to transfer the land to the forest department soon,” said V Umashankar, commissioner, MCG.
Activists said this kind of attempt to encroach forest land is a common practice. As the land is lying vacant for a long time, locals have started grabbing it and several incidences of dumping waste and chopping trees are being reported from the area.
“Both the forest department and the MCG are not taking action against violators. Departments always pass the buck when it comes to doing something on the ground. Nothing has been done in any of the cases related to tree felling in the green belt and also in the Aravallis,” said Vivek Kamboj, a city-based environmentalist, said.