Amid the increasing hostilities between the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a government report confirming large-scale tree felling in the lush forests of Chamba could leave the former red-faced.
A three member committee constituted by the government last year to look into tree felling has found that more than 1,800 trees were felled illegally in the Almi forest belt in Chamba.
The committee was headed by Chamba deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Bir Bahadur and had Munish Rampal, assistant conservator of forest, Nurpur division, and Kamal Bharti, divisional forest manager, Fatehpur division, as members. It was constituted to conduct a free and fair investigation regarding tree felling in Almi belt of Chamba.
The three-member committee was supported by a spot inspection team (SIT) comprising 23 members from the police, forest department and Forest Development Corporation. The team was divided into two groups, one for enumerating the stumps and other for scants and logs.
The inspection of lot was done on demarcation of actual marking team comprising four members Baldev Prasad (deputy ranger), who had also market lot 1/ 2013-2015 in December 2012, along with members Nidhia Ram, gardener, forest department, Des Raj, forest guard, and Om Prakash, timber watcher.
The joint committee and other team members visited every part of the lot where felling as carried out. The enumeration of stumps and logs by the team started in June 6, 2015, and continued till June 16.
The salvage lot was marked and handed over by the forest department to the state forest development corporation comprising 116 trees for felling. “During the spot inspection, it was found that the marking in lot was incomplete and lead measured by the lead measuring committee was not in consonance with the actual. During the spot inspection of lot it was found that 1,843 trees have been felled,” the report reveals.
Out of 1,843 trees stumps, only 438 were found marked, including 402 green and 36 dry. As many as 1,402 trees were without any hammer mark, including 339 green and 63 dry, and three stumps were found burnt. Therefore, the committee concluded that 1,807 trees were felled illegally.
The team found there were 13,163 numbers of slippers/scants and logs enumerated by the spot inspection team that comprised 12,477 Fir trees, 436 Deodar, 227 Kail and 23 broad-leaved species.
The BJP had also constituted a committee to look into the large-scale tree felling in Almi belt and had raised a huge hue and cry over it during the winter session of Vidhan Sabha last year.