Wanted: Saviour for felled trees in Jharkhand.

Source – telegraphindia.com

Remember the outrage recently when the Supreme Court stepped in after thousands of trees were cut in Arey, a suburb of Mumbai, for the Metro rail project? Now sample this: The Jharkhand forest department has still not been able to implement a high court direction from three years ago on transplanting trees cut for infrastructure projects.

The department has been struggling to complete the tender process to find an agency to undertake the task.

Concerned over mindless felling of trees in the name of development, Jharkhand High Court while hearing a public interest litigation in June 2015 had imposed a total ban on cutting of trees for widening highways.

The court had constituted a high-powered panel of lawyers and experts to study the present conditions and the need to cut trees for projects. The committee comprised the regional chief conservator of forest (RCCF) of Ranchi as its chairman and also the road construction department chief engineer, former IFS officer Narendra Mishra, environmentalist Bulu Imam, and the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) CEO.

The committee had in its report suggested empanelment of a tree transplanting agency.

“We had started the tender process for empanelment of tree transplanting agency three times in the last three years but the process could not be completed as only one firm took part in the bidding process,” a highly placed forest department source said. “We have again started the process again and have also initiated talks with some local agencies to show interest in the tender bid so that we can complete the process.”

The high court had in August 2016 had criticised the state government for delay in arranging a tree transplanting agency.

A senior forest official associated with the project of finalising the tree transplanting agency confirmed that Hyderabad based Volvo Trucks is interested in executing the work across state.

“Volvo Trucks has tree transplanting machines and has taken part during all the tender processes. However, no other agency took interest as the truck-mounted transplanting machine costs in excess of Rs 4 crore. We are in talks with some local agencies so that they take part in the tender agencies, even if they do not meet the eligibility criteria, to complete the tender process through multiple bidders. This is because we cannot complete the bidding process with a single bidder. We hope to complete the exercise by the end of October,” said the official.

According to the norms, whoever applies for the job should have at least three years’ experience in this field in the country. The company should also have a qualified team of at least one tree biologist and/or silviculturist (tree specialists, especially for forests) and a minimum of 10 tree transplanting machines, besides adequate number of complementary machines and other requisite resources to successfully carry out the task in time.

Jharkhand principal chief conservator of forest Sanjay Kumar said the department wanted to comply with the high court direction.

“The department is trying its best to select a tree transplanting agency for empanelment across state as per the advise of the high power committee constituted by the high court,” Kumar said. “Hopefully, it will be completed soon. As of now, agencies carrying out development work requiring tree felling are either carrying out tree plantation or transplantation on their own. It is mandatory to compensate for each felled tree by planting trees.”

The PIL was initiated suo motu by the high court on the basis of a news report that the road construction department had cut thousands of trees but had not planted saplings as it was supposed to do so.

Geologist and environmentalist Nitish Priyadarshi, lecturer in the department of environment and water at Ranchi University, said that in recent years hundreds of trees have been felled for road widening projects.

“In the last one or two years, hundreds of old trees have been cut in Taimara under Bundu police station area along NH-33 for its widening. There are proposals to cut hundreds of trees for widening of the Ranchi-Khunti and Ranchi-Silli road. Tree transplanting is the best method as merely planting saplings are no replacement for cutting old trees; the saplings would take years to grow, which would harm the ecology,” said Priyadarshi.

There are reports that nearly 3.44 lakh trees would be felled for the North Koel reservoir (known as Mandal dam) in the Palamau Tiger Reserve. “Tree transplantation should be done for projects both in city and rural areas as loss of tree cover will harm the environment,” Priyadarshi said.

Nilgai shot, buried alive in Vaishali dist of Bihar

Source: dnaindia.com

Many nilgai (antelope) were shot by hired shooters of forest department in Vaishali district of Bihar. Most nilgais died on the spot. The forest department of Vaishali district has claimed to have killed over 300 nilgai in the last four days. However, an injured nilgai met a tragic end, when it was buried alive after being pushed into the pit by a JCB machine. The video of the incident went viral and drew widespread condemnation.

On the initiative of Vaishali MLA Rajkishore Singh, with the cooperation of the state government and local administration, a shooter was called to carry out the gruesome killings, just to solve the problem of farmers who complain of their crops being destroyed by the nilgais. When the video went viral, Singh questioned the veracity of the video circulating on WhatsApp groups and termed it a “fabricated video”. However, the MLA wasn’t asked to respond to or questioned over the video, which suggests he had anticipated possible backlash and to avoid slander, tried to clear his hands.

As soon as the information of this whole matter came in, Vaishali SP Manavjit Singh Dhillon instructed the local Bhagwanpur police station to investigate the veracity of the viral video and when its authenticity came to light, sought clarification from forest department officials to take action on the people responsible for the live burial.

Meanwhile, Singh said, “This incident didn’t happen under my watch. I would not have allowed it to happen if I knew it. I had requested the DM to call the shooter and kill the Nilgais to reduce their numbers, after which forest department shooter came and shot Nilgais in many villages. The live burial is inhumane and I condemn it. Authorities will take the necessary actions.”

Green hope for Ranchi’s ‘dead river’

Source: telegraphindia.com

The state forest department on Sunday started planting trees along the banks of the Harmu rivulet in the capital to try and rejuvenate the water body that has been reduced to a dirty drain.

A part of the month-long Van Mahotsav-cum-Nadi Mahotsav inaugurated by chief minister Raghubar Das on July 7 near Jumar river, the rescue of Harmu rivulet was a stiff challenge, said people present at the site, as it was clogged by wastes from houses around it.

“The river is dead and looks even worse than a drain,” said Justice S.N. Pathak of Jharkhand High Court who was the chief guest on the occasion. He added that “oxygen or Coramine (the popular former trade name of nikethamide, a stimulant which mainly affects the respiratory cycle) can’t bring the dead back to life”, but also appreciated the forest department’s efforts to green the area. “Trees give us oxygen to survive,” the judge said.

State’s principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Sanjay Kumar, who was present with over a 100 others comprising forest officials, NCC cadets and citizens, said he hoped that planting saplings would help improve the condition of the rivulet and its surroundings.

“About 6,000 saplings will be planted along a 2km stretch by the side of Harmu rivulet within the capital,” Ranchi divisional forest officer (DFO) Saba Alam Ansari said. “We will plant trees wherever space is available,” he said without going into the open secret of encroachment in the area. He added that as the area was beside a road in the city, they were planning on flowering trees such as gulmohar, peltophorum (copperpod or yellow flame tree) and night jasmine, saplings of which would be protected by cattle-guard and wire fencing.

“As per this year’s plan, 45,000 saplings will be planted alongside the 15km stretch beside the Subernarekha river and 15,000 saplings alongside the 5km stretch beside Jumar river,” Ansari added.

PCCF Kumar had earlier told the media that 8.26 lakh saplings would be planted on a total of 274km of banks along 44 rivers across the state during the Vanmahotsav-cum-Nadi Mahotsav that began on July 7 and will continue till August 6. The department had planted about 9 lakh saplings along the banks of 24 rivers in as many districts of Jharkhand last year of which about 80 per cent survived, he had added.

Scores of Harmu residents turned up at the planting event. “Harmu rivulet may be in bad shape but trees are the need of the hour and I will do my bit,” said Md Gafoor who stays nearby. “I’ll take a few saplings from the forest department to plant on the small plot that I own.”