Forest Dept. officers take exception to remarks of KBD chairman

He had said large-scale tree cutting was taking place owing to lockdown

Forest Department officers of Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga districts have taken exception to Karnataka Biodiversity Board (KBD) chairman Anant Hegde Ashisara’s recent statement that the illegal cutting of trees had gone up in forest areas during the lockdown.

The officers have written to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests refuting the remarks.

Mr. Ashisara, in a press release recently, said that he had received complaints suggesting large-scale cutting in Vagarerahalli in the Kadur range. He had stated forest vegetation on 480 acres had been lost.

In Balur forest of Mudigere taluk, 472 trees had been cut and in the Koppa division over 42 acres of forest had been lost. He also listed similar incidents in parts of Soraba, Hosanagar, and Tirthahalli taluks in Shivamogga district.

The chairman remarked that the above incidents happened because of the lockdown. The miscreants exploited the situation to cut the trees in the forest, he said. The chairman had said he had submitted a report based on the information gathered to Forest Minister Aravind Limbavali.

The incidents of large-scale tree cutting, he mentioned in his statement, left the Forest Department officers in shock.

Senior officers visited the places mentioned in the chairman’s report and submitted a detailed report to the department heads. An incident involving the cutting of 25 trees was reported in Sorab taluk recently and the accused were arrested. Except for that, nothing was found on the ground.

A senior officer in Shivamogga district said, “No major tree felling had happened in the recent days. Such statements would demoralise the staff working on the field”.

In Chikkamagaluru, respective Deputy Conservators of Forests did the inspection and submitted reports.

Sunil Panwar, Conservator of Forests of Chikkamaglauru, visited two places and submitted a report. “I have personally inspected the spots and the forest area is intact. We will verify if the board chairman gives us specific information about any illegal tree cut in the forests of our circle,” he said.

When The Hindu contacted Mr. Ashisara, he said he had no copy of his report with him at the moment and he would discuss the issue after a few days.

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