Criticising the Forest Department for not allowing farmers to cut trees in plantations, B.A. Jagannath, spokesperson of Hassan district Congress committee, alleged that the department was “encouraging” the illegal sale of timber in Sakleshpur and Alur taluks.

“Planters are not even allowed to carry trees that have fallen because of heavy rain,” he told presspersons here on Thursday.

Forest Department officials have refused to permit cutting of trees, “citing strange rules.” But, cutting and transportation of timber has been going on illegally and the officers are not taking action against such activities, he alleged.

Farmers want to cut trees because they lost valuable crops due to rains. They are trying to make up for the loss by selling lumber, he said.

Mr. Jagannath said Congress leaders had appealed to Hindu Minister for Forests and Environment B. Ramanath Rai to respond to the woe of planters in Sakleshpur. The Minister had agreed to stay in Hassan for three days from November 4 to understand the problems, including elephant menace, he said.

More In: Karnataka | National