Forest Dept shields guilty MCD officials

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New Delhi, Oct 7 (UNI) The Delhi Government is yet to punish the two MCD officials recently found guilty of felling eight healthy trees even as "no permission was sought nor given for felling the eight healthy trees".

A tree can be cut only if the forest department authorizes an officer to do so in public interest. However, the information provided by the forest department under RTI mentioned that no such permission was sought nor given for felling the eight healthy trees in this case.

Responding to a complaint by Sudershan Narang, forest guard Dhanpat Rai submitted an inspection report stating "four trees were found uprooted by the MCD bulldozer. Two Neem trees had girth of 38 cms and 32 cms. Two Ashoka trees had girth of 35 cms and 15 cms".

The case falls under section 24 of Trees Act 1994, which states that "any person who contravenes any provision of this Act or Rules or Orders made thereunder shall, on conviction be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both".

Dy Conservator of Forest (South) Prabhat Tyagi allegedly found the MCD Central zone officials Licensing Inspector (Enforcement) B S Negi and JE (Works) Division IX P K Rastogi responsible for cutting down eight healthy trees in Dayanand Colony, Lajpat Nagar.

Such offences can indeed be compounded but only under the Lt Governor's notification. That too, by charging a composition fee not more than Rs 10,000. However, the Secretary (Forest) was tight lipped about the composition fee collected from the guilty MCD officials.

On the other hand, they reportedly spared the MCD officials from prosecution and conviction.

UNI

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