Green lobby concerned at lopping of forest treesMarch 19th, 2011 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS
Patna, March 19 (IANS) Environmentalists in Bihar expressed concern over the mindless cutting and pruning of trees from the forests for making bonfires for Holi (burning of Holika) festival.
The burning of Holika, symbolising the destruction of evil, is part of the Holi festival which culminates in splashing of colours the following day. This year the colour smearing will be celebrated Sunday.
“Pruning and felling of trees from forest areas are illegal, but we did not take action as there was no directive from the top,” a forest official told IANS Saturday.
Guddu Baba, an activist, said that some people chop off branches and cut down trees with the full knowledge of forest officials, local administration and police.
“The officials ignore it despite the open violation of forest laws,” said Baba, who has been campaigning to reduce pollution in the Ganga river.
According to Robert Athickal, who runs Tarumitra, a Patna-based organisation to protect and promote a healthy environment, there was need to create awareness among people not to target trees to collect wood for bonfires.
Tarumitra volunteers have been appealing to people to avoid lopping off forest trees for making bonfires, he told IANS.
Arun Singh, another environmentalist, linked the issue with the dwindling forest cover over Bihar.
Trees are our lifeline, he said.
Sambhu Mahto, retired school teacher from Phulwari Sharif near Patna, told IANS that till the 1970s, garbage and other waste, including dry wood, were collected for the bonfires.
“We never pruned trees or cut them. Now the situation is different. People seem to enjoy cutting tress for the bonfire,” he noted.
Gopal Prasad Sharma, a youth leader of the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M)) said that senior political leaders should come forward to appeal to the people not to harm trees for festivals.
According to official data, Bihar has only a fragile 6.07 percent forest cover.
The Bihar government has set an ambitious plan to increase the forest cover to 35 percent within a decade.
Forest officials admit that Bihar lost most of its green cover when the state of Jharkhand was carved out of it three years ago.
The undivided Bihar had a forest cover of 17 percent.
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Tags: arun singh, bihar government, bonfires, communist party of india, communist party of india marxist, environmentalist, forest areas, forest cover, forest laws, forest officials, forest trees, ganga river, guddu, healthy environment, holi, holi festival, local administration, retired school, tress, youth leader