M A I N   N E W S

This company is fine with fine
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 21
Despite the Forest Department recommending cancellation of the MoU signed for the execution of the 192-MW Alien Dhuangan power project in Manali for over 100 violations under the Forest Conservation Act till date, the company has once again damaged 116 trees.

It was in January that the Forest Department had imposed a fine of Rs 3.23 crore on the private company for damaging 723 trees, which had to be later felled by the department. The company has already paid Rs 2.70 crore and has decided to contest the case for payment of the remaining amount.

In yet-another violation, the company recently caused damage to 116 trees for which a fine of Rs 2.23 crore has been imposed by the department. With payment of hefty fines not being much of an issue, the company has already paid Rs 1.11 crore out of this amount as well.

Till date, no FIR has been registered against the company which has made umpteen violations under the Forest Conservation Act and continues to do so. In fact, the local forest official had issued a show-cause notice to the company twice in June and September last year, as to why they should not be directed to stop work.

Spokesperson of the company Jagmohan said damage to the trees was unavoidable as during the course of work they could not have been saved. He added that the fine imposed on account of the damage done had already been paid, but they would contest the penalty as the damage was inevitable.

An FIR had been registered against the same company while they were executing the 86-MW Malana power project, earlier. Forest officials who have recommended cancellation of the MoU for violating the Forest Conservation Act too feel helpless as the company is not bothering much to protect the trees and cause the minimum possible damage.

Perturbed over the indiscriminate damage caused to the trees and environment in the area, the residents had brought the matter to the notice of the Chief Minister a few days back.

It was on his directions that a five-member committee headed by the ADC, Kullu, had been constituted and entrusted with the task of inspecting the area.

Official sources said the committee had so far not been able to visit the site due to inclement weather.

It was on January 17 that the company was granted permission to cut 1,370 trees which would have been damaged during the course of work on the project site. However, later approval for damage to only 1,270 trees was granted as it was felt that about 100 trees could be saved.



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