Trees cut in Ghaziabad, forest department to issue directions
Following an incident on Thursday when the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) allegedly damaged trees in the city forest area, the divisional forest department will be writing to all departments in the district to obtain permission before pruning any greenery.
The forest department officials alleged that the authority damaged 98 trees in the name of pruning. A case was filed by the forest department following an inspection. The forest officials said a letter will be issued to all departments after the divisional forest officer resumes office on Monday.
“The formal letter will be issued to the GDA, the municipal corporation, the electricity department, etc. At my level, I have issued a letter to the electricity department. All these departments will be required to obtain permission before any pruning whatsoever,” Nav Ratan Singh, range forest officer, said.
“After Thursday’s incident, a case has been issued against the authority for damaging 98 trees. The divisional forest officer and chief conservator of forests have the power to levy a penalty in the case. The penalty is decided by the scheduled rates for each tree, ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000, depending on the type of species,” he added.
On the other hand, officials of authority’s horticulture department said that they are taking up precautionary measures so that such incident is not repeated. GDA officials, on Thursday, had denied causing any damage to trees and termed the activity a ‘pruning’ exercise.
“We will take up numbering and tagging of trees in the city forest area. Different pockets of the 150 acre city forest have been tendered out. The area comprises nearly three lakh trees of different varieties,” Govind Singh, inspector, horticulture (GDA), said.
The city forest area has been designated ‘forest’ under the authority’s Master Plan 2021. The land belongs to the municipal corporation and is developed by the authority. According to official estimates, the authority spends nearly Rs 2 crore from the infrastructure development fund on the annual maintenance of the city forest.
The city forest has 11 major pockets, ranging from 10 to 15 acres each, comprising a vast amount of trees and shrubs. The activists who raised the issue have also forwarded a complaint to UP authorities on the online grievance redressal system.
“We have also spoken to the conservator of forests and demanded that strict action be taken against the officials who are responsible. The incident on Thursday came to light luckily, but it could be a persisting issue. Those responsible should be punished,” Akash Vashishtha, an environmentalist, said.