Ghaziabad: Four full-grown trees axed, environmentalists blame former mayor

According to the forest department, it is an offence to fell full-grown trees without department approval
The four trees belonged to the alstonia genus and were growing outside a sealed house adjacent to Verma’s home in Sector 9 of Raj Nagar, a prime locality. (Sakib Ali/HT photo)
The four trees belonged to the alstonia genus and were growing outside a sealed house adjacent to Verma’s home in Sector 9 of Raj Nagar, a prime locality. (Sakib Ali/HT photo)
Updated on Oct 02, 2021 12:19 AM IST
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At least four full grown trees were chopped illegally outside the house of former mayor Ashu Verma in Sector 9, Raj Nagar. Although forest department officials have registered a case in this regard, they did not disclose any names, saying they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, environmentalists who visited the spot alleged that the tree-felling took place at Verma’s behest.

According to the forest department, it is an offence to fell full-grown trees without department approval. Officials of the department said the four trees belonged to the alstonia genus and were growing outside a sealed house adjacent to Verma’s home in Sector 9 of Raj Nagar, a prime locality.

Ashutosh Pandey, the sub divisional officer from the district forest department, confirmed that the department registered a case. “The incident came to our knowledge on Friday morning, and we have registered a case. No permission was taken from the forest department for chopping the trees,” he said, while declining to reveal names of the suspects.

Officiating range forest officer Ashok Gupta added, “The name of the former city mayor has cropped up... I cannot tell the names of persons against whom a case has been registered under provisions of the Tree Protection Act, 1976,” he added.

City-based environmentalist Akash Vashishtha, who lives nearby, said he rushed to the spot after receiving information about the logs of the fallen trees lying on the road.

“I received information from a source in the horticulture department of the municipal corporation that the trees were felled on the behest of the former city mayor and that some staff of the horticulture department carried out the activity. Moreover, the forest department detained some of the staff in this connection and the former mayor played a crucial role in their release,” said Vashishtha.

“Moreover, the civic staff was also told to immediately clear the felled wood logs... The forest department officials said they have registered a case in connection with the incident but are not revealing any names. Hence, I have raised complaints with the senior officers of the UP forest department,” added Vashishtha.

Dr Anuj Singh, the horticulture department in-charge of the municipal corporation, denied any involvement of his staff. “No one from the corporation is involved in the incident. We have issued clear instructions to our staff that they will not get involved in any such activity which is done without the permission of the forest department,” he added.

Former city mayor Ashu Verma said he did not order the trees to be chopped.

“The alstonia trees were 25-30 foot high and were right outside a house adjacent to my home. The adjacent house is sealed, and we park our cars just outside it. The trunk of the alstonia trees developed cracks and posed a risk to commuters. Moreover, the trees had more foliage after the monsoon. The trees have not been felled but only pruned, leaving 10-12 feet of the trunk. I did not order any such activity... it could have been done by someone else,” said Verma.

Ganga Prasad, conservator of forests (Meerut division), said he was aware of the chopping of trees.

“I have directed the district officials to investigate and registered a case. I will direct them to reveal the names,” he added.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021