29 Aug 2023

Himachal Pradesh: Are Deodar Trees Being Cut Needlessly In Shimla In Guise Of Disaster? Are Some People Taking Advantage Of Relaxation Of Norms?

Shimla: Deodar trees are being cut in large numbers in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh as large-scale damage to life and property was caused when huge deodar trees fell during heavy rains and landslides in the Himalayn state. People are now raising questions on this. The district administration is being accused of cutting trees that are not dangerous in the guise of disaster. People on social media are now talking about launching 'Chipko Movement' in the Himalayan state on the lines of Uttarakhand to save trees.

According to some residents, many people in the Upper Dharamsala and other  areas can be seen cutting down green deodar trees after the government recently relaxed the norms for felling of trees due to danger to buildings. Some people are taking undue advantage of the relaxation of the norms and getting liberal permissions for the felling of huge deodar trees.

Timely felling of dangerous trees could have minimized loss?

According to some people, timely felling of dangerously hanging trees, or those whose roots had come loose following the heavy rains, could have minimized the extent of devastation caused by the landslides in Shimla. Questions were raised about the falling trees. Shimla, located at an altitude of nearly 2,300 metres above the sea level, provides an ideal environment for growth and propagation of Deodar trees.

Major reason for devastation has been deodar trees at many places

Heavy rains lashed Shimla between August 13 to 15 and August 22 to 24, causing huge loss of life and property. In many places, the major reason for the devastation has been the deodar trees that have completed their age. As huge trees were uprooted houses and vehicles were damaged in many places and many people died. 

Dist admin authorized to give permission to fell trees

Meanwhile, the Sukhu government has declared this tragedy as a state disaster. Therefore powers to give permission to cut trees are now with the District Disaster Management Authority i.e. District Administration. Generally tree-committee constituted under the chairmanship of Mayor gives permission to cut trees. 

As the tragedy has been declared State Disaster, permission to cut trees is being given at the district administration level. Trees have been cut in bulk at various places. After this disaster in Shimla city, more than 500 applications have been received for cutting trees. Environmentalists have started opposing it.

Trees should not be cut unnecessarily

Former Deputy Mayor of Shimla Tikendra Panwar said that it is right to cut vulnerable trees. However, trees should not be cut unnecessarily. To avoid devastation, there is a need to plant trees instead of cutting them. If 1000 trees are cut, 5000 should be planted. People are also raising questions about cutting more trees more than required.

Shimla Mayor Surendra Chauhan told that right now permission to cut trees is being given through SDM. If 100 trees are cut, then their next target is to plant 1000.

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