Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, May 14
Rampant felling of deodar trees is going on in McLeodganj and Dharamkot tourist areas of Dharamsala.
Trees are being felled for the construction of hotels and other commercial complexes, most of which are illegal.
The Tribune team surveyed the area in McLeodganj where rampant felling of deodar trees had been reported in the recent past. A large numbers of deodar trees were found to have been felled on Thadoling hillside adjacent to the hill where the residence of the Dalai Lama is located.
In fact Thadoling hill is the only area in McLeodganj that has retained green deodar trees. But, it is also gradually falling prey to haphazard construction.
A construction of a hotel was going on behind the Bhagsu Hotel close to the Union Foreign Ministries Liaison office. Five stumps of old deodar trees that were felled in the recent past were found here.
The wood and twigs of the green trees felled in the area could still be seen gathered on the plot where the construction was taking place.
Sources said the district-level committee had given permission to the person carrying out construction to fell two deodar trees at the spot.
On the same hill, freshly felled deodar tree could be seen lying before the Lelong Literature Preservation Society. Sources said many trees were felled in the area for expansion of a building. The matter was reported to the police by a foreign tourist. However, no action was taken.
As per the rules, the permission to fell deodar trees could only be given by a committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner in case the trees were threatened the existing buildings.
Interestingly, in the present case the permission for felling two trees was given even before the building was brought up on the land in question.
Kangra Deputy Commissioner Paul Rasu said the committee gives permission to fell trees that threaten the building on the report of the forest officials concerned.
He also assured to get the matter probed in case extra trees were felled in McLeodganj.
Division Forest Officer (DFO) Basu Kaushal said the forest officials were alone responsible for giving permission to fell trees that threaten life and property within municipal limits.
It is the joint committee of forest, municipal and revenue officials that gives the report on such permissions, she said.
She said forest officials have been asked to probe into the complaints of illegal felling of trees in McLeodganj and Dharamkot areas.
The officials seem to be passing the buck to each other, while rare and preserved deodar trees are being felled.
The Tribune team also visited the Dharamkot area and found that several deodar trees were felled for constructing hotels. In the area where Rishi Bhawan was located several deodar stumps of huge deodar trees which were felled in the recent past were seen.
A few deodar trees were felled in a plot owned by prominent opposition leader and MLA in Dharamkot area. Sources said here also permission to fell two deodar trees was given in a conspicuous manner.
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