Forest Dept.’s decision to trim trees violate its own guidelines

The State Forest Department’s decision to carry out trimming of trees in a sprawling area of about 55,000 square metres in Darjeeling district in alleged violation of the guidelines and Supreme Court order has generated concern within the Department.

A letter issued by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Silviculture (Hills) Division in Darjeeling noted that “silviculture thinning” is “being undertaken by the Research Division”. Silviculture is done in a plantation to ensure growth of trees but the rules are being violated.

Denying the allegation, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) N.K Pandey said that “no silvicultural thinning operations were undertaken” in the area.

The DFO’s letter prompted a senior Forest Department official to write to Mr. Pande where she claimed that the Department is violating regulations for scientific management of forests and a Supreme Court order.

Scheduled time

The official also pointed out that the thinning or trimming of trees in the Kurseong Forest Division was not conducted in the scheduled time — when the trees were 30-year-old — but instead the thinning operations were to be carried out when the trees are about 50 to 51 years old. She described the decision as “major deviation from the Working Plan prescription”.

“Such disguised commercial thinning/felling of timber stage trees during 51st year is against the objective of thinning and scientific management of plantation forests in high altitude areas and the orders passed by the Honourable Supreme Court regarding silviculture operations. It is therefore requested that a detailed enquiry into such operations in older plantations at high altitude areas should be undertaken urgently,” Minakshi Prasad, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said in her letter, a copy of which is with
The Hindu
.

According to the State government’s sixth working Plan (Volume II) for the Forest of Kurseong Sub-Division thinning of trees can only be undertaken during the 10th, 15th and 20th year of their lives.

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