By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 16: The Dharamshala Municipal Commission has issued notice with compliance from the Himachal Pradesh State government to protect trees in the Dharamshala area that has been felled for developmental and construction purposes.
Acting executive officer of Dharamshala Municipal Council Sanjeev Saini told The Tribune
, “We have freed many trees and the campaign to free other trees was continuing. We have filed six cases under section 211 of the Municipal Council Act against those who have felled tree illegally under Dharamshala municipal council area”.
The officials of the local MC have started a campaign to ‘free trees’ that have been trapped inside a structure during construction or houses built around it.
As is the law, live trees cannot be felled hence the trees are artificially dried using chemicals and other methods, sources say. The property owners later plead officially to cut down the dead trees on the account of the dry tree posing imminent collapse. The practice has been seen around the largely forest department land in and around McLeod Ganj area which has seen numerous developmental projects and constructions in the last few years.
“We have written to Himalayan Forest Research Institute to verify the age of about 50 stumps of trees that were found in McLeod Ganj area. Initially, we had written to the Forest Department over the matter. However, the Forest Department had stated that they do not have the expertise over the matter,” added Saini.
“The Himachal High Court in CWPIL No. 8/2015 has banned felling of trees, whether dry, green or whatever. Besides, the damage to the stumps of trees in any manner, resulting in damage to trees and thus environment has also been banned. In case felling of trees was detected the person shall be liable for criminal action besides other action contemplated in compliance with the law,” a public notice issued by the Municipal council reads.
Earlier the law regulated a meager fine of 500 rupees or imprisonment upto 3 months under the Municipal Council Act of Himachal. Now with the State High Court intervening into the proceedings, cases have been filed against offenders.
Dharamshala is the winter capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh, residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration and home to around 15000 Tibetans.