Taradevi Forest Massacre in Shimla with pictures/videos
HW team visited the controversial site at Tara Devi forest in Shimla where 477 green trees were axed and captured some visual for its readers. We were startled as well as felt sorry for Shimla at the sight of what we observed. Do watch the complete video
SHIMLA-On September 12 last year, Amrik Singh Nagpal, a resident of Chandigarh, purchased 38.5 bighas of private land, owned by Parminder Kaur, in Mauza Jungle Taradevi, Shimla for 16 crore. The revenue department undertook demarcation at the site on November 12, 2014 and two days later, on 14 Nov, the forest beat guard of the area filed an FIR reporting illegal felling of trees in the area, followed by no investigation or any action.
On November 21, a newspaper reported illegal felling of 477 green trees in the same area after which it was followed by all the media, the issue reached the Indian Green Tribunal, and politicians begin their game over the issue.
If you noticed, then revenue department visited the area for demarcation and knew beforehand about the tree massacre. Similarly, the FIR lodged by forest guard had reported it to Shimla police already a week before it was raised in media. Then, how come both departments did not speak of it?
Including some full grown, almost a century old devdar trees, about 500 trees were axed, obviously for some commercial project, a luxury resort most probably. Govt. puts the number of felled trees at 477, but that doesn’t include small trees, which they claimed to be only bushes.
When caught in the web, five officials including forest guard and Block Forest Officer were suspended within a couple of days. Conservator of Shimla, Sanjay Sood was also transferred to the headquarters.
Afterwards, suo moto cognizance of this illicit felling was taken by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). A notice was issued to the state chief secretary and the principal secretary (forest) to submit their reply before Jan 8, 2015.
On November 21, an FIR was registered under Sections 30, 33 of the Indian Forest Act and 447 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Before police could arrest the accused businessman Amreek Singh Nagapal, he went underground seeking an anticipatory bail from the court. However, he surrendered before Shimla Police after the court denied him the bail.
Tara Devi illegal tree felling Video
When the HP Assembly Winter Session begin, BJP walked out many times demanding debate over tree massacre going on in Himachal, especially in the forest minister’s home district Chamba. BJP also demanded resignation of Thakur Singh Bharmauri alleging his involvement with forest mafia, with which we agree. It seems that Himachal’s forest mafia and HP Govt. enjoy fruits of grooming a healthy relation for the benefit of both.
A couple of days ago, National Green Tribunal directed the owner of the land Parminder Kaur to deposit Rs 20 lakh with Forest department as initial payment for re-forestation and as damages on account of restoration of environment and ecology.
State put the value of 477 trees at Rs 33 lakh approximately, and nearly 87.5 cubic meter wood have been recovered so far while hunt for rest of it is on.
We visited the area one month after it was reported and highlighted by media, but still, we found axed tree were covered with mud, stones, and leaves.
Huge, deep pits were dug at various points to burn the waste of axed trees.
Remains of burned leaves, branches verified it.
The view from the site is worth millions, and that’s what lured everyone from land owner, the buyer to forest minister. One can get wide angle view of Shimla city from here.
We noticed deep cuts on many nearby trees that hint at the possibility that more trees were to be axed if it had not been highlighted by media.
A motorable road was spotted approaching the controversial site, appearing amidst dense forest cover of Tara Devi. Apparently, it was developed to facilitate the transportation of axed trees.
The answer isn’t any surprise. Corruption has entered into the roots of Indian society, and most corrupted results are found at Govt. departments, They make most of this opportunity as they control the fate of things that otherwise belongs and affects public in general like our precious forest covers.
Himachal’s forest minister, Thakur Singh Bharmauri, has criticized it like his hands are completely clean in it. He claims no prior knowledge regarding the record tree massacre in Ahlami beat in his home district Chamba, in which 895 green devdar trees were felled illegally. Congratulations Mr. Bharmauri. It’s the biggest tree felling scam ever reported in Himachal. After this report, 12 people, five officials of Forest Corporation, three officials of Forest Department along with four others were arrested, and are on three days’ remand.
According to the reports, this illegal felling in Chamba had started in 2013, but came into light in November 2014 only.
A recent report had reported illegal tree felling in Nalagarh where over 200 trees were axed. Similarly, in January 2015, news reported illegal felling of 45 trees in Theog region of Shimla. The reports from Shillai also add to it.
It’s happening all over Himachal, but only some of them are known to us. Himachal state government was rebuked by the National Green Tribunal in January 2015 for non-compliance of its order to take steps to protect the ecology of Rohtang. Considering the issue of climate change as critical one, NGT said:
“It is unfortunate that the state has not shown its requisite interest in protecting one of its most beautiful but ecologically more sensitive area for which it’s obliged to discharge its constitutional and statutory duty. It is in the interest of the state to protect this eco-sensitive area not only in the environmental interest, but even in the interest of state revenue. If the glacier is permitted to melt at the rate at which it is stated to be melting for a year probably after few years, there will be no glacier and no tourism and hence no revenue.”
Due to forest clearance for road building boom, Himachal is among three states where massive deforestation was observed. The other two are Uttarakhand and J & K in the past decade. Rising population, industrialization, and greed of politicians, all of them are burdening natural resources. In 2013, ministry had cleared 17 projects requiring the diversion of 46.95 hectares of forests in Himachal. That was done within a period of five to six months. With such pace of forest clearance, the future sounds gloomy for ecological balance.
The Town and Country Planning Department announced that more than 240 hectares falling in Parav forest near Tara Devi and Gadyog in Totu in Shimla has been reported, and therefore these two areas will be declared as the green zones, so that the thick green cover could protected.
For years, we have been listening to these announcements about green zone, no-construction zone, and protection of ecological balance. All 17 no-construction green belts in town are green in announcements and Govt.’s official documents. Last year, too, NGT had directed the state government to halt and impose ban on construction in 2000 green belts around the town.
Read an old article:-Save Trees: 24 private luxury apartments on the grave of hundreds of trees
Corruption and need for more habitable land due to expanding human civilization aren’t the only reason. As individual, too, our insensitivity is born out of our lack of awareness regarding lethal environmental consequences. These consequences will affect each and everyone, irrespective of any class, religion, status or anything.
The tourist industry will regret not caring for the greenery. The pattern of rain and snowfall is already hit due to gradual human interference with ecological balance. It’s going to be worse in future. All efforts regarding the preservation of forest can only temporarily halt or delay the process of deforestation. We can just buy more time, but we can’t prevent human race sucking out all natural resources to fulfill the needs of the modern world.
An Appeal to Readers !
If you notice such activity as felling of green trees around you or other issues critical to the ecology of Himachal like vehicles spitting out smoke, click a photograph or record a video and send it on editor[at]himachalwatcher[dot]com or you can post it directly into HW’s Your News section for instant publishing. You can choose to be anonymous while posting anything if you aren’t comfortable to disclose your identity. Not only emission, but there are a lot of other public grievances which need attention from us.