Demanding transfer of the urban forest area within the Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) limits to the civic body, a delegation met chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday.
A deputation of the SMC was led by mayor Sanjay Chauhan along with the councillors. The deputation urged the chief minister to transfer the urban forest area within the corporation limit to the Shimla MC as it was being maintained by the MC since its inception as a municipal body.
They apprised him that the state government had partially handed over the urban forest area measuring 842.13 hectares to the Shimla MC in 2011 keeping the balance forest areas measuring 1,038 hectares and no rights were given to the MC as it had prior to 2006.
The recent cabinet decision on September 25 had decided to transfer the urban forest area from the Shimla MC to the HP state forest department.
Chauhan said the income accrued from urban forest within the municipal corporation limits had not been shared with the SMC by the forest department.
The forest department has earned a revenue of `10.38 crore since 2011 till now from these forests. He said the SMC was paying salaries to the employees of the municipal forest department, who were on deputation or secondment basis with the SMC which sums to `6.36 lakh per month.
Chauhan said the urban forest was the constitutional right of the civic body as enshrined in the 12th schedule of 1974 Constitutional Amendment that states that the urban forest management was required to be under the control of the local body.
Besides, the civic body is required to control over the forests also because this is one of the mandates under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), he added. The delegation also urged the chief minister to enhance their honorarium.