Trees on 5 hectares forest area felled in encroachment bid

By Times Of India on 27 Oct 2017 | read
CHANDRAPUR: Large-scale tree felling carried out by a group of villagers in a bid to encroach forest land has come to fore in a jungle near Gilbili village under Chichpalli range. Though there are reports of felling of huge trees on 5 hectares land, the Chichpalli RFO claimed that only shrubs and bushes on one-and-a-half-hectare were cleared to create land for farming.

Seventeen persons, including seven women, were arrested from the village. All the arrested accused were produced before JMFC court in Ballarpur, where they were granted bail after being sent into magisterial custody remand.

RFO, Chichpalli range, AV Gedam claimed that on October 11, a local guard found a patch of forest land cleared of all shrubs and bamboo grooves. The guard immediately alerted range office and 18 village were found to be involved in the felling. He said that 17 accused were arrested on the same day, while one managed to escape.

The RFO claimed that not a single big tree was cut by the villagers. "Only shrubs and some bamboo grooves were cleared in a day or two in a bid to encroach the forest land," he said.

TOI visited the spot and found several big trees had been hacked and a large patch of forest was cleared of shrubs and bushes.

Sources claimed that more than 50 small and large trees along with large chunk of shrubs and bamboo bushes were chopped in at least three blocks at different places. "Three families from the village had hired labourers for the task which lasted for several days," the sources said.

Gedam said one of the encroachers was a former deputy sarpanch and all the accused are members of joint forest management committee of the village. "A notice has been served to the head of the committee to seek explanation on the issue," he said.