In a bid to protect green cover in historic Shimla city by checking illegal felling of tree, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has directed Shimla Municipal Commission to numbering all trees on government and private land and tag them with Radio Frequency Identification Tag.

Making tagging mandatory for trees standing both on government and private land, the High Court directed to utilize World Bank funds for installing Radio Frequency Identification Tag on trees on public land and for trees on private land court directed authority to recover tagging cost from land owners.

Taking cognizance of amicus curiae Devan K Khanna’s submisions on the ‘brutal’ modus operandi of land mafia and builders to clear forests for construction purposes, a High Court bench of acting chief justice Sanjay Karol and justice A M Goel found lack of enthusiasm among departments to protect trees, and ordered the Municipal Corporation Shimla to ensure Radio Frequency Identification Tag in every tree, falling within municipal limits.

The Court rued that trees were being dried up by pouring acid in its roots and then felled, either by obtaining sanction in accordance with law for felling of dried trees or by adopting illegal means only for clearing for construction.

The Court said that tagging would ensure to check illegal felling of trees as it would also keep the date of its growth as well.

The court also ordered the state chief secretary to implement the court’s order for numbering and tagging of trees. The Court further ordered chief secretary to also map forest cover as well as growth of concrete structures in the town by “using drone satellite and associating department of environment, science and technology”.

The High Court sought a compliance affidavit by November 14.