HC takes suo-motu cognizance of forest encroachments

Updated - May 26, 2015 01:58 am IST

Published - May 26, 2015 01:57 am IST - SHIMLA:

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday took a suo motu cognizance on a complaint by a resident that some prominent apple orchardists have encroached about 500 bighas of thick deodar forest land and have illegally planted apple trees in government land in the apple rich belt of anterior Shimla district.

According to a public interest litigation petition, filed by a resident of village Chaithala in Tehsil Kotkhai, around 40 residents of villages Chaithala, Nagpuri Chaithala, Karewag Chaithala and Sevag Chaitala have raised apple orchards on the government land.

They have chopped down deodar trees on these lands to raise orchards. Some of them have even availed financial help from the government for constructing apple grading and packing houses and water storage tanks. The petitioner also alleged that the government has also provided the encroachers electricity and water connections.

With the mounting profits in growing apple, the farmers in the apple belt are clearing deodar and other pine trees and planting early variety apple trees with the connivance of revenue officials. The apple economy and the area under cultivation have multiplied manifolds in the past three decades in the hill State.

The High Court on Monday issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Revenue), Principal Secretary (Forest), Director General of Police, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, D.C. and S.P., Shimla, SDM Theog, DFO Theog, Director Horticulture and the Principal Secretary (I&PH) in the matter of raising apple orchards by encroaching upon government land.

The court has directed the respondents to file a report and listed the matter for June 2.

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