PWD official booked for cutting trees

June 10th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

Shimla, June 10 (IANS) The forest department in Himachal Pradesh has slapped a case against an engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD) on charges of felling 71 trees and damaging forest cover. The official has been booked under sections 32 and 33 of the Indian Forest Act, officials said. He allegedly acted illegally in Mandi district.

The PWD is constructing a road under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna from Hanogi to Bahadi village, at a cost of Rs.35 million.

Mandi’s Divisional Forest Officer Kunal Satyarthi told IANS that 71 trees were axed without the permission of the ministry of environment and forests.

He says that the adjoining forest land was also damaged during the road construction.

“Despite our repeated notices to the PWD about the violation of forest law, the assistant engineer did not bother. We finally registered a case. Cases against more officials can’t be ruled out,” Satyarthi said.

The PWD had got permission from the central government to use 4.33 hectares of forest land to build the road. It was authorised to cut down 290 trees.

But the PWD started the project outside the permitted area and felled 71 trees in this zone, said Satyarthi.

PWD executive engineer V.K. Awasthi insisted that the trees were cut after permission from the central conservator of forests in Chandigarh.

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