Aghast at allegations of rise in illegal felling of tress in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday informed the state assembly that nobody would be spared and an inquiry would be conducted in this regard.
"Nobody would be spared in the illegal green felling. Even if my son is found guilty in such offence, he would also not be spared," the chief minister said while replying to a debate on illicit felling of trees on private lands and in forests.
Bharatiya Janata Party member Ravinder Ravi, who raised the issue under Rule 130 on the first day of the winter session that began here, alleged illegal felling has increased alarmingly in Chamba district, the home constituency of forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri.
He alleged that the illicit felling on such a large scale was not possible without political patronage.
The BJP leader demanded sacking of the forest minister and an inquiry into the matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
He said the government gave permission to fell 1,016 dried trees in Chamba district but over 2,000 trees were cut on the pretext of dead trees.
He also said a chemical was being sprayed on the trees by some unscrupulous people behind this clandestine trade to dry them up and later get permission to axe them down.
Congress member Asha Kumari, who also belongs to Chamba, apprised the chief minister about the flourishing forest mafia.
"It's a matter of great concern. No illegal felling should be allowed. Whatever is happening in Chamba should be stopped immediately. Even 'A class' deodar trees were axed," she said.
Citing a case, she said 112 (dried) trees were marked to cut but more than 500 trees were axed.
BJP member Suresh Bhardwaj raised the issue of illegal felling of 477 trees on private lands last month on the outskirts of Shimla.
Replying to the debate, the chief minister said the axing of trees was a serious issue. "I feel sad even when the trees are axed with permission."
The state government's blanket ban on green felling imposed in 1986 was historical for safeguarding the forest wealth, he said.
"Then prime minister Indira Gandhi was concerned about the green felling in Himalayan region, particularly in Himachal Pradesh," he said.
"She assigned me the responsibility of saving the forests when 'van mafia' (forest mafia) was active in the state," said Virbhadra Singh, who got accolades from all the members, including the opposition BJP, for executing the ban in totality.
"Chamba is rich in biodiversity. The matter (raised in the house) will be investigated and nobody will be spared."
Showing his commitment to saving the green, the chief minister said: "If I failed to stop the illegal felling, it will be my biggest failure of life. I will look into it with a heavy hand."
"Nobody will be spared for green felling," he added.
Later, not satisfied with forest minister's explanation, the BJP members staged a walkout from the assembly.