₹1.20cr fine imposed on tribal man for cutting 2 trees in MP’s Raisen
A Madhya Pradesh forest department officer has imposed a fine of ₹1.20 crore on a member of an indigenous forest tribe for allegedly cutting two trees in the forest of Raisen district, calculating the cost on basis of measurable and immeasurable benefits provided by trees, forest officials said.
The fine was imposed on Chhote Lal Bhilala, 30, a resident of Silwani village of Raisen district, who was spotted cutting two sagaon (or sagwan; teak) trees at Singori Sanctuary on January 5. He was arrested on April 26.
Bamhori forest ranger Mahendra Singh said, “According to study of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, a tree provides intangible benefits of ₹52 lakh for 50 years. This includes oxygen supply of ₹11.97 lakh, ₹23.68 lakh for controlling air pollution, 19 lakh for soil erosion and soil filtration and ₹4 lakh for water filtration. The trees gives tangible benefits of ₹2 lakh. Therefore, a tree gives benefits of about ₹60 lakhs during its life span to people.”
In February, an expert committee told the Supreme Court that the value of a tree is its age multiplied by ₹74500.
“The fine was imposed on the basis of benefits provided by a tree,” Singh added.
“Chhote Lal is a habitual offender and locals complained that he was involved in illicit felling of trees to sell it to a furniture shop,” he added.
However, Chhote Lal’s uncle Phool Bhilala said, “We live in a forest village and use uprooted old trees to construct our houses but the ranger is harassing us.
An advocate and expert of Indian Forest Act, BL Gupta said, “According to Indian Forest Act, there is a provision of fine of ₹500 and six month imprisonment for illicit felling of tree. But the ranger imposed a fine as per a study in the charge-sheet. It is going to be an interesting case.”
Madhya Pradesh forest department’S principal chief conservator Rajesh Shrivastava said: “I have asked divisional forest officer, Raisen to share a report on this issue because it’s a first of kind matter for the state.”