Over 200 trees were axed on Sunday in Mangar Bani, a dense forest area in the Aravallis. The incident took place despite the government creating a 500-metre buffer or no-construction zone on June 13, 2016.
The large-scale tree felling in the area, located 15 km from Gurgaon, marks a blatant violation of the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to maintain status quo in the Aravallis. This area comes under the sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act ( PLPA) where any non-forest activities are prohibited.
Mangar Bani was demarcated as a 677.12 acre forest area with a buffer zone of 500 metres in February 2016. In June, the government even notified it as a ‘no-construction zone’.
Among the trees that were chopped was Anogeissus Pendula (Dhau), which is a slow growing species native to the Aravallis, said Somu Yadav, a Mangar local.
The villagers briefed the forest department on the incident on Monday. The trees were brought down late on Sunday in an area spread across 2 acres.
Quizzed on the incident, the forest department officials said they were aware of the tree felling on Sunday night and are in the process of conducting a survey of the area. “We are in the process of inspecting the area and will file a damage report on the incident. Even earlier, we had filed complaints on such incidents. We will also step up surveillance in the area in a bid to deter people who indulge in such activities,” a forest range officer of Mangar said. However, no FIR has yet been lodged in this incident.
Hanif Qureshi, police commissioner, Faridabad, said, “Our special team, which has been asked to work with the forest department to curb tree felling in the area, will visit the spot and make an inquiry. We will also inform the forest department if we come across any such incidents in the future and will lodge FIRs as well.”
This area is sensitive as it has a large wildlife presence and is close to the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary. Even as the forest department has a permanent forest post to patrol the area, such incidents keep happening, a villager said.
Villagers said last year, as many 18 FIRs were lodged with the police with regard to indiscriminate tree felling. Yet no action was taken against the violators.