Illegally axing trees: Dharamsala court summons Anurag, six others
A Dharamsala trial court on Friday issued summons to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) chief and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur and six others in connection with a case filed against the cricket body for illegally felling large number of pine trees during the construction of its high-end resort for players-The Pavilion, near Dharamsala town.punjab Updated: Nov 07, 2014 18:41 IST
A Dharamsala trial court on Friday issued summons to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) chief and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur and six others in connection with a case filed against the cricket body for illegally felling large number of pine trees during the construction of its high-end resort for players-The Pavilion, near Dharamsala town.
Among others, against whom summons were issued are HPCA honorary secretary Vishal Marwah, spokesperson Sanjay Sharma, the then range officer of the forest department Bidhi Chand, field Kanungo Kuldeep Kumar, tesildar Jagdish Ram and patwari Jagat Raj.
“The court of special judge Davinder Kumar, issued summons to the seven accused in a case of illegally axing hundreds of trees during construction of five-star resort in Kandi village, near Dharamsala town,” said a special public prosecutor. The court has fixed the matter for next hearing on December 15.
The investigating agency had, on November 29, 2013, booked Thakur, the two office-bearers of the HPCA, forest and revenue officials, under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 447 (criminal trespass), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The vigilance bureau, following a year-long probe, filed chargesheet in the case on September 6, 2014 and charged HPCA with illegally axing a large number of pine trees standing on the land allotted on the lease for construction of the resort, which was later turned into a hotel.
Land was allotted in 2009 when the BJP government, headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, was in saddle in the state.
The investigating agency has also charged the forest and revenue officials, named in the chargesheet, for conniving with the HPCA and giving wrong information in the no-objection certificate (NOC) given to the HPCA.
Forest officials in the NOC had stated that there are no trees on the patch of the land allotted to the HPCA.
However, the vigilance enquiry established that even now, there are 2,023 trees standing at the leased land.
The probe also revealed that trees adjoining the hotel are at least 30-year-old; making it clear that they could not have been planted after the hotel was constructed.
Inconsistencies were found in the records of the forest and revenue department during the investigation, which hinted that trees were felled illegally.
The bureau had also sought decade-old satellite images of the patch of land from the National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, to ascertain how many trees were illegally felled.
It is worth mentioning that the vigilance bureau had indicted Thakur, his father, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, and 14 others in case of cheating and criminal breach of trust filed against the HPCA.