By: Kishori Lal
Mandi: Pointing at the presence of a strong timber mafia in the state, hundreds of precious green deodar trees have reportedly been illegally felled in Dev Parala and Khanukhari beats of the wildlife sanctuary in Shikari Devi area.
Visiting media persons in the ravaged areas in Pangna Valley were told by villagers on condition of anonymity that hoards of timber smugglers descended in the dense forest at mid-night and felled hundreds of trees with the help of ‘mashals’ and did large scale felling and burnt the stumps to wipe out evidence of the crime last week.
Villagers also alleged that the felling was done in connivance of petty police and forest officials who are now attempting to hush up the matter. According to a reliable source, a false report had been sent to higher authorities that only dry trees had been felled. Last week, 40 deodar sleepers were seized by a team of forest officials from Karsog forest division of the district.
It may be recalled that a large number of trees had been felled in Mandi forest division three years back under similar circumstances, which had led to the conservator of forest being suspended.
There is complete ban on green felling in Himachal Pradesh, but despite this illicit felling and smuggling has been going on unchecked on a large scale in absence of adequate infrastructure to contain forest crimes. The Himachal Pradesh High Court, in the wake of lush green valleys converting into dry grey hills, had even gone to the extent of imposing an interim ban on much-misused timber distribution system, which no political party ever dared to do fearing loss of vote banks. Of late, Himachal Pradesh government has drawn up a new TD policy, which is being bitterly opposed by the vested forest mafia engages in the illegal trade of smuggling of TD timber.