The police on Monday arrested a Chandigarh-based businessman, Amreek Singh Nagpal, for his role in the illegal felling of 477 trees on a private plot in Taradevi, after he gave himself up. Nagpal had earlier applied for interim bail but his plea was declined by the high court on December 16. The cops will produced him in court on Tuesday and seek his police remand for conducting further investigations.
Nagpal, had signed an agreement for buying 38 bighas of land in Taradevi , near Shimla, on which the trees were axed. However he denied any knowledge about the incident on December 1 when questioned by the Shimla police. “I have signed an agreement for purchasing 38 bighas of land, but I have yet to get possession of the land. I am not aware of the alleged tree felling,” he had told the police.
Nagpal, who is the director of Pristine Hotels & Resorts, was keen to set up a resort on the land near the Tara Devi temple and Praveen Sharma was the person who was helping him in getting all clearances. The police had arrested Sharma on charges of forgery as he had applied for the demarcation of land and other permissions without any authority, but he was later granted bail.
The police registered an FIR in the case on November 21 while the trees were reportedly felled in the first and second week of November. Shimla Additional superintendent of police BD Negi said a case had been filed under Sections 30,31,41,42 of the IF Act, Section 16 of the LP Act and Sections 447,420,461,468,120B, 201, 379 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). “Nagpal was arrested today and will be investigated,” he added.
The Shimla bench of National Green Tribunal had earlier issued notice to all the private owners on whose land the trees were felled. It directed the state forest department to examine this aspect and serve notices to all the private owners of land to be present before the tribunal on January 8, 2015.
In the covering up action, the government had suspended the forest guard, beat officer, range officer and two divisional forest officers were transferred in the case. Recently, the demarcation of the area had been conducted in which it was observed the tree felling had been done on private land only, following which sections of the Land Preservation Act (LPA) were included.