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Cost of ‘development’: 1.4 lakh trees felled in 8 months across Punjab

These trees were felled between October 28, 2016 and June 17, 2017, as per an affidavit submitted by department of forests and wildlife preservation before NGT

punjab Updated: Aug 11, 2017 11:36 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Cost of ‘development’,trees felled,department of forests and wildlife
Tree-felling underway on NH-64 in October 2015. (HT File Photo)

The Punjab government has felled 1.4 lakh trees in the state during a period of less than eight months between October 28, 2016 and June 17, 2017.

This was stated in an affidavit by officials of the department of forests and wildlife preservation submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in New Delhi on Wednesday (August 9).

“As per reports, 1,44,940 trees were felled till June 17, 2017 in different projects in Punjab,” said Kuldeep Kumar, principal chief conservator of forests, in a affidavit.

The affidavit added, “7,04,968 seedlings have been planted till now in lieu of 1.4 lakh trees felled in the above said period under Compensatory Afforestation Scheme.”

Putting a blanket ban on felling of trees for projects in Punjab, the NGT had directed the state government on July 10 not to undertake any new project without its permission.

The NGT order had come in response to petitions filed by Chandigarh-based NGO Peacock Environment and Wildlife Protection Society and Dr Amandeep Aggarwal of Sangrur.

Though the tribunal had directed the state on May 19 to ban tree felling for any project and sought a report on axing in Nawanshahr (SBS Nagar) and Jalandhar districts, the government had moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay and got nod for some pending projects.

Meanwhile, Dr Amandeep Aggarwal alleged that the government has not planted sufficient trees. He said nine lakh trees had been cut in Punjab since 2011. “The plantation work is only on papers. The state has failed to plant enough seedlings,” he added.

Aggarwal said a maximum of 2.4 lakh trees were felled in 2013-14, followed by 2.12 lakh in 2014-15 and 1.89 lakh in 2015-16. The state has been divided into five forest zones — south circle, north circle, Shivalik circle, Ferozepur circle and Bist circle.

He added that as per the affidavit, the maximum number of felling was done in south circle, where 2.48 lakh trees were axed in five years, followed by Shivalik circle (2.07 lakh), north circle (1.7 lakh), Ferozepur circle (1.59 lakh) and Bist circle (80,511).

The varieties of the felled trees included sheesham, neem, arjuna, brahma drek, melia, keekar and eucalyptus.

First Published: Aug 11, 2017 11:36 IST