HP Vidhan Sabha

Tapovan: As expected illegal green felling issue raised in the winter session of the state assembly and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh assured to take stringent action against involved.

Chief Minister, while replying to a debate on illicit trees felling on private lands and in forests, said “nobody would be spared in the illegal green felling. Even if my son is found guilty in such offence, he would also not be spared.”

BJP leader Ravinder Ravi, earlier raised the issue under Rule 130 on the first day of the winter session, alleged that illegal felling has increased alarmingly in Chamba district, the home constituency of Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri.

Ravi raised doubt over the political patronage and demanded sacking of the forest minister following inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He informed the government gave permission to fell 1,016 dried trees in Chamba district but over 2,000 trees were cut on the pretext of dead trees.

He also said a chemical was being sprayed on the trees by some unscrupulous people behind this clandestine trade to dry them up and later get permission to axe them down. Congress member Asha Kumari also apprised the chief minister about the flourishing forest mafia in the Chamba district.

Shimla legislature Suresh Bhardwaj also participated in the debate and raised the issue of illegal felling of 477 trees on private lands last month at Taradevi near Shimla.

Replying to the debate, the Chief Minister said the axing of trees was a serious issue and assured to take stringent action against involved. He said “I will never let anyone, may he be my son, to destroy the flora and fauna of the Pradesh,” adding that besides conservation of forests, it was moral duty of all of us to protect the wild life and animals too.

Later speaking to the media persons outside Vidhan Sabha, Singh assured to take strict action against those who were involved in the massive tree felling at Taradevi. He claimed that the Government had taken serious note of the heinous act and had placed the Guard, Deputy Ranger, Ranger and Divisional Forest officer (DFO) under suspension.

He said that besides the tree felling in Taradevi, few cases were also reported near ‘Macchi Wali Kothi’ in Shimla which were also being investigated and soon the offenders would be behind the bars.

Being asked about the involvement of political leaders in the tree felling case the Chief Minister said that “One Swallow doesn’t make a summer” thereby meaning that we should not come to a conclusion based not on enough evidence though adding further that the consultant of some company which had entered into the agreement with the owner of the land had been refused bail and soon he would be arrested.

Raising concern over the illegal felling, he said that the State Government had such strict forest laws that not even a private person can cut a branch of tree though standing on his private land.

On being asked what next step was likely to be taken in this regard, the Chief Minister said that investigations were on and said that rather it would be his biggest failure of life if he failed to bring the criminals to the book.