The state government had chalked out an ambitious plan to increase the area under green cover from the existing 7% to 15% in 2013 under “Mission Green Punjab” but, instead of planting more saplings, the department of forests has even failed to protect its existing trees at many places.
Recently, nearly 15 to 20 Burma Deks were cut from near Nathewala village along the Kotkpaura-Faridkot link road while about 50 such large trees, including two fully grown eucalyptus trees, were cut down from Rajbaha, Faridkot. But no action seems to have been taken against the people responsible for it.
“It is very unfortunate that nearly 20 to 25 burma dek trees have been chopped off from near village Nathewala on the Kotkpaura to Faridkot road. What to speak of undertaking more plantation drives, the department of forests has even failed to protect its existing green cover,” said Gurdevinder Singh, an activist of the Society for Environmental and Ecological Resources (SEER), a Faridkot-based NGO.
“This is not the only place where trees have been chopped off. More than 50 fully grown trees have been chopped off in a few months from Rajbaha, Faridkot, between the bridge of the drain at Devi Wala village to the bridge at Nathewala village. A few days ago, two fully grown eucalyptus trees near the Devi Wala bridge were chopped off. But, no action seems to have taken so far.. First, the big trees are cut from above the particular height from land and then, some other people come they dig up the left over trunk and roots to destroy the evidence of the theft,” claimed a farmer from Devi Wala village of the district.
“Many people are cutting trees for fuel wood and big trees are cut by influential people. All the people, who graze goats, also cut down big branches of trees, particularly dek trees to feed their animals. Later on, these branches are taken away by others for fuel,” said Sandeep Arora, another member of the SEER.
Last month, an Akali leader from Kotkpaura had allegedly chopped off some ‘tahli’ trees from the Kotkapura-Chahal- Faridkot road.
The farmers, whose fields are close to the roads, drains or water distributaries, also try to intentionally burn the trees when they burn paddy or wheat stubble to weaken the trees which, later on, get damaged with the passage of time.
“I shall get all it checked from the officials concerned. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty,” said Pawan Sridhar, forest range officer, Faridkot.
Satnam Singh, divisional forest officer, Ferozepur, also agreed to look into the matter.
“Yes, I am aware of the cutting of the trees from these places and have also visited the place. It is the irresponsibility of the guards who are not doing their duty well,” said another officer of the department from Faridkot.