By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 24 Aug: It may be recalled that Garhwal Post had published a report today concerning large scale illegal felling of Deodar and Kail trees in Purola Range in district Uttarkashi. Taking major action in this regard, the Dhami government today suspended the DFO, SDO in charge and three rangers in connection with the felling of green deodar trees in the Purola-Tons forest division of Uttarkashi district. After the CM’s decision on this, the Principal Secretary, Forest, has issued the orders suspending these officers.
It may be recalled that in Purola-Tons Forest Division, more than a thousand green Deodar and Kail trees were felled. They were turned into logs and taken out of the forest claiming that they were part of the 788 dry trees identified for felling which had been allotted to the Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (locally called Van Nigam). This lot had been allotted to the Forest Development Corporation more than 2 years ago but had not been picked up after felling by the Corporation. Later, green trees were also felled and moved out in phases from the forest claiming them to be the dry trees for which felling had been approved. When the matter came to light, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests had ordered an inquiry. After receiving the inquiry report, action was recommended against all the officers and employees including the DFO.
However, initially, only junior officials were suspended despite recommendations of the Inquiry Committee of action against some senior officers. Garhwal Post had prominently questioned the motive behind the inaction against senior officers. Now, after the approval of the CM, Principal Secretary, Forests, RK Sudhanshu today issued orders suspending DFO Subodh Kala, SDO in-charge Vijay Saini, Ranger Ramakrishna Kuksal posted in Sandra Range, Ranger Govind Singh Chauhan of Kotigad Range and Forest Officer in-charge of Deity Range, Gyanendra Mohan Junwada. Deputy Conservator of Forests Kundan Kumar has been now being given the responsibility as Divisional Forest Officer in Tons Forest Division. Kundan is presently posted in Haldwani.
DFO Kala has been attached to Nainital and SDO Saini, the Shivalik circle, Dehradun. Ramakrishna has been attached to Pithoragarh and Chauhan to the Champawat office. Apart from this, orders for suspension of eight officers and employees, including the then DLM, Ramkumar, have been issued a day before by the MD of Forest Development Corporation.
It will be pertinent to point out here that more incidents of illegal felling of Deodar and Kail trees have come to light recently, including one in Kanasar range of Chakrata. So far, no action has been taken. It may also be reminded here that, of late, the forest department has been in the news more for wrong reasons than the right ones. One of the cases of illegal felling of trees and illegal construction in buffer zone of Corbett Tiger Reserve is already before the High Court. The High Court had recently snubbed the forest department for not coming out with all the facts pertaining to this case. The reports submitted by the department before the court did not include the name of some top forest officials and even the name of the then Forest Minister, Harak Singh Rawat, who had allegedly played a crucial role in illegal activities related to creating a Tiger Safari in Corbett.