6,000 trees felled in a decade, Gzb forest authority fails to keep pace
The department, which is authorised to protect trees and animals, has all rights to register cases and prosecute offenders including government and private bodies under the UP Protection of Trees Act and Wildlife Protection Act but no case of conviction has been forwarded even after the FIRs had been registered.
In a reply to an RTI (Right To Information) filed by Akash Vashistha, the forest department has revealed that as against <g data-gr-id="27">felling</g> of around 6,000 trees, FIRs were registered against only 137 offenders. Among the offenders, 123 are private bodies while 14 are government agencies — GDA, GNN, <g data-gr-id="28">UPSIDC</g>, Awas Vikas Parishad, etc. The RTI reply says that out of the 137 cases, 132 have been resolved after receiving <g data-gr-id="37">penalty</g> from each offender while <g data-gr-id="38">rest</g> of the five cases are under investigation.
“The forest department, after receiving a fine of Rs 5,000 from each offender, has closed as many as 132 cases while five are still under investigation,” the RTI reply said.
Also, the district forest department has filed just eight cases of killing/death of animals in the past 10 years under the Wildlife Protection Act despite reports of hundreds of deaths/killings during this period. “The department, after forwarding the matter to the court, has sent the convicts to jail. Environmental activists, however, claimed that even after receiving hundreds of complaints, the department is inactive.
“Last year, two leopards were found dead in Loni and Murad <g data-gr-id="26">Nagar</g> but no action was initiated against their killers. Though the department has the right to prosecute people involved in killing of animals, penal action against them has hardly taken place,” Vashistha said.
It may be noted that in a reply to an earlier RTI, the district forest department confessed that trees were felled illegally by the government departments. The data provided by the forest department had revealed that the GDA had felled 4,905 trees illegally in the past eight years while it was allowed to saw down only 1,518 for carrying out its developmental projects.
The department, however, had allowed felling of nearly 3,000 trees for various developmental <g data-gr-id="23">works</g> but the number jumped to almost twice during the period.