Deforestation in the name of cricket in Himachal Pradesh

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Dharamshala, Jan.14 (ANI): The construction of a five-star cricketers' residential complex is spurring concerns of deforestation in Himachal Pradesh, as a large number of trees are being felled for this purpose.

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) is building the Pavilion Residential Complex in Kandi village, which is near the state capital, Dharamshala.

State Chief Minister P. K. Dhumal laid the foundation stone for the residential complex last December.

The move to create space for the complex came after the city was chosen to host two matches during the lucrative Indian Premier League tournament, which takes place in April this year.

The felling of trees has also given an opportunity for the opposition Congress party to train its guns on the government administration.

"People have complained that trees are being cut down. On the one hand, you are promoting conservation but here, in a state where felling is illegal, how can you cut trees for a five-star hotel? The government should stop the construction immediately. If they don't, then the matter should be taken to the central government," said Chander Kumar, a former MP and General Secretary, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee.

Chief Minister Dhumal has reportedly thrown his weight behind the HPCA, which is led by his MP son, Anurag Thakur.

It is this relationship that has unnerved politicians from the opposition Congress, leaving the Forest Department to sit on the fence.

"We have not received complaints nor have we received an application for the permission to cut trees," said R K Gupta, a divisional forest officer.

The IPL tournament is just round the corner, and five-star residential facilities for players are a primary condition for hosting any match. In a bid to complete the work on time, the HPCA has hired a New Zealand-based construction company. By Hemant Kr. (ANI)

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