Felling of trees: Himachal HC takes cognizance

Shimla, Dec 29 (IANS) Taking suo motu cognizance of reported felling of Deodar trees by farmers for raising apple orchards, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the state to file a fresh status report in the case.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan directed the chief secretary, the principal secretary of revenue and forests and others to file the status report regarding encroachments by 40 farmers in Chaithala village in Kotkhai tehsil of Shimla district within eight weeks.

It listed the matter for next hearing on March 22.

The court acted on a letter written by a resident of Chaithala, who alleged the farmers have raised apple orchards on around 500 bighas of government land after axing the Deodar trees.

He said some of the farmers have even availed financial help from the government for constructing apple grading and packing house and water storage tanks. He alleged the government has also provided the encroachers electricity and water connections.

Earlier in August, the high court observed that an “encroachment on one inch or on thousand inches is an encroachment and the encroachers are liable to be evicted and dealt with under law”.

The court directed the state to clear encroachments on forest land by fruit growers and disconnect their electricity and water connections.

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