The Himachal Pradesh government is set to approach the Supreme Court of India to seek a waiver of the condition of the ‘ten years felling programme’ for Khair trees. The move comes just before the listing of two cases related to the felling of Khair trees in the state.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu stated that if the verdict goes in favour of the state government, it will provide much-needed relief to farmers, who will no longer need permission from the forest department to fell Khair trees. The government also argued that silviculture felling of Khair wood is better for forest management and rejuvenation, and would generate revenue for the state.

Khair is a vital component of the agro-economy in several rural areas of Himachal Pradesh, including Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Sirmaur, Solan, and Hamirpur districts. The wood is used to extract ‘Katha’, which is a useful ingredient in various medicines.

The state government had earlier constituted a committee to recommend ways to remove Khair from the ‘ten years felling programme’ and relax the provisions of the Land Preservation Act in favour of farmers. The committee’s report has been submitted to the court and is likely to be taken into consideration.

The Supreme Court had allowed the felling of Khair trees on an experimental basis in 2018, following a plea by the Forest Department. Recently, a Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court visited the areas where the felling of Khair trees was allowed and submitted its findings to the court.

The state government also plans to seek permission for felling Khair trees on government-owned forest land across the state. The forest department supports the move, citing the rejuvenation properties of the wood. The chief minister reiterated that the welfare of the farming community was a top priority for the state government, and several decisions were being made to benefit them.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.