HC puts Punjab govt on notice for illegal felling of Khair trees
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday put the Punjab government on notice on a public interest litigation (PIL) for the alleged illegal felling of Khair trees in the Siswan forest area.
The petition filed by Mohali resident Akbar Khan alleges that only 333 killa (acres) out of 3,300 acres in Siswan village are privately owned and the rest is under forest area. However, some private contractors with power of attorney from these land owners are cutting and uprooting trees on private land as well as the forest area in connivance with the forest officials.
According to the petition: “This is a clear proof that the forest mafia is using all illegal methods in the garb of permits and cutting trees (falling) under the area of Panchayat land and forest land, which is a clear violation of the Indian Forest Act and Punjab Preservation of Land Act.”
If this trend is not checked the day is not far when the forest mafia will cut the all forest area trees which will have serious consequences for the ecosystem, reads the plea.
Landowners involved in the racket should be questioned and made responsible for illegal felling of the trees, the petitioner demands, adding that government and local officials should be directed to initiate investigations into the matter.
Khair or Acacia catechu has commercial value because it is used for making rollers for crushing oilseeds and sugarcane, knife handles and for charcoal. A white substance called katha derived from it is used as a medicinal remedy for body aches and other ailments. The bark has use for relief in asthma, indigestion and eczema. Katha is also used for paan or betel leaf.