Shimla: Cutting down fruit laden apple trees just before harvest time as the law catches up decades after expansionist apple growers allegedly encroached upon forest lands is giving many farmers in the hills of Himachal Pradesh sleepless nights these days, even as it sharply divides the community with some calling it equivalent to manslaughter and other coming out in support of the judiciary initiated action.
Posted by Trilochan Thakur on Thursday, July 16, 2015
Monitored by the state high court, forest wardens have put together task teams that have cleared some forest lands in Karsog belt of Mandi and in Jubbal and Rohru areas of Shimla district.
Yesterday in Bulan and Khasdhar ranges of Telgha village in Rohru about 460 fruit laden apple trees were felled. Revenue officials first demarcated the land to identify the encroached forest lands before the foresters got to work. The land cleared of apple plantation was about 3 acres (15 bighas).
Rohru forest division officer Chamanlal to the media confirmed, “460 apple trees were cut in Bulan and Khasdhar ranges and about 15 bighas of forest land has been cleared of encroachments”
Two day earlier another team cut down 150 trees in Madhol village of Jubbal, some of them with electrical saws, after the orchard was identified by accompanying revenue officials to be on encroached forest lands.
The process was started from an orchard in Karsog belt where about 2 acres of orchard was cut down and cedar and oak saplings planted in place, about three weeks ago.
A Damocles sword hangs over many orchard owners, whose plantations in the past two to three decades have allegedly come on forest encroached lands.
Houses that have come up orchards grown on forest lands are threatened with disconnection of water and electricity supply lines.
The active high court has taken foresters and bureaucrats to task for not implementing the law of the land. A status report about the action taken is being placed before the court on a regular basis.
Chief parliamentary secretary Rohit Thakur, who represents the Jubbal-Kothkai assembly constituency said, “cases of small and marginal apple farmers who are facing the axe would be placed before chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
Pictures of the cut trees are drawing sharp reactions and being shared extensively on Facebook and other social media platforms.
‘Stop Apple Murder’ is how Lokender Jhouta reacts to a shared picture of cut down trees.