JP Dabral of Himalayan Chipko Foundation has filed several PILs in Supreme Court of India exposing the misuse of Hak hakook system and the nexus between the forest department officials and the timber mafia. In two such matters the Ministry of Environment & Forests has confirmed that the nexus exists and the illegal felling of trees does take place in connivance with the Forest Department officials.
Himalayan Chipko Foundation, June 12, 2010
JP Dabral has also filed a PIL exposing the illegal felling of about 5000 trees in Joli Danda in Dwarikhal Block, Pauri Garhwal. The PIL was admitted by Supreme Court which directed its Central Empowered Committee to investigate and report on the matter. Uttarakhand Government has not filed its reply for the last two months and has been seeking adjournments because the Forest Department claimed that the official copy which was serviced by the applicant to their Counsel and the Government of Uttarakhand has not been received by them.
Despite this PIL which should have made the Forest Department officials alert and cautious more than 150 trees have been cut in the forests of Joli Danda by the Timber Mafia last week. Villagers on condition of anonymity have said Arjun Singh a known timber mafia don about whom MoEF have also confirmed, has is in connivance with some Forest Ranger who belongs to village Dhaonri in Dwarikhal Block felled the 150 trees through sub-contractors. The Ranger who gets a large chunk of the profit also facilitated the transit of about eight trucks of sleepers from the Joli Forest. From one tree about 6 to 12 sleepers can be obtained depending on the size of the tree. In one truck about 280 sleepers are transported. Even if 10 sleepers were obtained from one tree then about 28 trees were cut for each truck. At this rate about 200 trees would have been cut. Villagers also told us that each truck is valued more than Rs. 3 lakhs in the market which is shared by the Ranger and the timber mafia. When we went to survey the area we found freshly sawed pine trees. The resin oozing out of the trees was still white and clean. The trees are scattered over a area about one km. in length starting from the village boundaries of Kandwan and Baryun and extending to the area near the temple at Jolikhal.
We are very confident that permission to cut not more than two or three trees would have been given by the Forest Department to an individual farmer to cut the trees in his Naal Land. We are also surprised how transit permits are given for eight trucks when the permit is given for felling two or three trees.
It is not difficult for the Forest Department for the senior Forest Department officials to identify the Ranger and collect the evidence from the villagers and the forests to arrest the contractors and the corrupt Forest Department officials. They must also take action against the personnel who are manning the check posts between Joli Danda and Kotdwar where the trucks had gone.
JP Dabral of Himalayan Chipko Foundation has already written to PCCF and Chief Secretary in Dehradun. If no action is taken then he shall file another PIL in Supreme Court.