Over 500 trees cut in Mangar Bani, forest land levelled
Over 500 trees, big and small, were illegally cut from an area of nearly two acres close to the Mangar Bani sacred grove in Faridabad in the wee hours of Saturday.
The trees were uprooted to possibly level the land for construction activity, forest department officials said.
Mangar Bani is a dense forest patch and environmentalists consider it to be one of the last remaining virgin forest areas in the Delhi-NCR.
The large scale clearing of forest is in violation of strict orders from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to maintain the status quo in Mangar. Besides, cutting trees in the area without permission is also prohibited as per the Aravalli notification.
Sources in the forest department said they had received information that such large scale tree-felling was being planned. “A week ago, we had received information that earthmovers were seen moving through the forest. We had sent staff for inspection but nothing suspicious was noted,” a forest department official said.
The forest department will file an FIR on Monday after taking stock of the scale of damage, officials said.
About 200 large trees, mostly vilayati kikar or prosopis juliflora, were axed or mowed down using earthmovers in the area that is notified as general section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900. Non-forest activities are restricted in these areas and felling trees requires permission.
Officials said that white limestone powder was used to demarcate the plot, possibly to mark the area where trees were to be cut. The large trees have been removed from the area while the smaller ones have been buried using soil, which is not indigenous to the area. The demarcated area has been levelled using the soil that was brought from outside.
This is the fourth such incident of tree felling in Mangar in the last eight months. The Mangar Bani area, which comes under the Aravallis, spreads across Faridabad and Gurgaon and is under the threat of rampant deforestation with increasing number of large scale tree-felling incidents being reported.
“Mangar and neighbouring areas is a rich wildlife habitat and a ground water recharge zone. Therefore, it is extremely important to preserve the forest and natural environment in this area,” Chetan Agarwal, an environmental analyst, said.
Environmentalists are worried that despite several legal restrictions, such violations may harm the natural ecosystem of the region.
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