Tribune News Service
Shimla, August 6
Farmers, under the banner of the Himachal Kisan Sabha and HP Apples Growers Association, today demanded resignation of Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri for his failure to present the “true picture of forest laws and wealth before the High Court”.
They said the state government had implemented the High Court eviction proceedings mechanically, ejecting poor, small and marginal farmers from their lands occupied by them for years.
“No such law can be implemented mechanically in the state,” said charged Rakesh Singha, president, HP Apple Growers Association. “If the 10-storey High Court building and 12-storey Jagson ropeways building have violated the municipal law, should the extra portion be demolished,” asked Singha.
“It is a matter of grave concern that the state government is evicting poor and small farmers and disconnecting water and electricity connections in the state,” Singha charged. The protests would continue till small and marginal farmers get justice, he asserted.
The Forest Minister is mum over the eviction of farmers from the government land,” said Dr Kuldip Tanwar, president, HKS. It was sad that the minister could not depute an officer who could present the true picture of law before the court, he added.
“We demand resignation of the Forest Minister,” Dr Tanwar said. “The Forest Department is keen on making law for wild animals and monkeys straying into urban habitats, but the government is not ready to make law for the farmers protecting forests over the centuries,” he said.
Dr Tanwar, a former Indian Forest Officer, claimed that the Forest Department had failed to present facts not only on encroachments and destroyed tree cover, but also on plantations the department had raised over the years by spending crores.
“How can the Forest Department say apple cultivation has destroyed the green cover when the Forest Survey of India has observed that the forest cover has increased in the state,” Dr Tanwar asked. The apple trees help reduce carbon footprints and the department must lease out the land to the farmers by framing a pro-poor policy.
“The minister is beating around the bush as the department has failed to check the wild animal menace in the state,” Dr Tanwar said.
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