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400 protected sheesham trees felled in Pataudi

The issue of the disappearing trees was flagged to forest department by Anil Gandas, a wildlife rescuer, who has personally counted about 400 stumps in the area. He estimates that the real figure is probably more.

gurgaon Updated: Apr 27, 2019 00:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Gurugram
sheesham trees,Pataudi,tree felling
An estimated 400 sheesham trees—protected under the Forest Act, 1980 —have reportedly been felled in Pataudi in the last four months. (AFP)

An estimated 400 sheesham trees—protected under the Forest Act, 1980 —have reportedly been felled in Pataudi in the last four months on a land belonging to the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC).

The issue of the disappearing trees was flagged to forest department by Anil Gandas, a wildlife rescuer, who has personally counted about 400 stumps in the area. He estimates that the real figure is probably more.

The area in question, Gandas said, is a dense forest of almost 1,700 acres, of which a substantial parcel is earmarked for the Haryana government’s Global City project, straddling the villages of Gadoli Khurd, Harsuru, Khandsa, Narsinghpur and Mohammadpur. The area is also home to animals such as Indian rock pythons, golden jackal that are protected under schedules 1 and 2 of Wildlife Protection Act.

About five months ago, Gandas said he had noticed an uptick in the spate of illegal tree-felling and reported it to district forest officer, Deepak Nanda, who has since increased patrolling in the region. “Sheeshams are a target for lumbermen because they are a valuable source of timber. They are also used by locals as fuel, but such rampant felling is a sure sign of timber mafia involvement. Sheesham wood has a high value in the black market, more than mesquite,” Gandas said.

Nanda confirmed the issue had been brought to his notice, and that the forest department was doing its best to increase vigilance. “I have informed the forest range officer in Pataudi of the issue and asked him to prepare a report on the number of trees lost,” Nanda said. However, he did not provide any detail on preventive measures taken to curb this unauthorised tree felling, or if there has been any concrete action taken against violators.

Though Gandas was not able to recall the specific date, he said the forest department’s efforts had led to the arrest of a local lumberman about four months ago, who was also fined ₹2,000. “However, barring that one action, little else has been done,” he said, warning that felling would continue unless strict action was taken.

The managing director of HSIIDC did not respond to requests seeking comment on the issue.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 00:40 IST