Trees Skinned Alive Despite Social Forestry

IMPHAL, Jun 14: Forest Department may have planted numerous trees along the road side under its Social Forestry program to help in maintaining the environment. But today these trees on the road side have been stripped of their protective bark to have natural death for use as fire woods.

Along the stretch of the Tiddim Road at Malom Tulihal Makha Leikai area, one could see that full-grown trees that the Forest Department have planted under its Social Forestry programs have been stripped of their protective bark and standing silently withered or all dried up.

To a casual onlooker, it may appear that these trees have been dried up naturally. But on closer inspect- ion, one could not miss the fact that the protective bark around the stem have been removed systematically for 2 to 3 feet.

When The Sangai Express enquired why the trees are being ‘killed’ in that manner, some of the people of the area explained that it may be either to prevent the leaves from falling into the nearby paddy fields or for use as fire woods.

It is suspected that such tactics may have been ad-opted under the presumption the Department could also do nothing in felling down these dried up trees.

The Sangai Express, could not get any definite response on under which division of the Forest Department does the area, where the ‘killing’ of trees is being practiced, falls.

On the other hand, this year’s report of the Comptroller and Audit General of India has pointed out that Forest Department of Government of Manipur planted trees covering over 4335 hectares from 2005 to 10 during dry season and this plantation in dry season have been carried out under all its seven divisions at an estimated cost of Rs 2.75 crores.

In addition, 2800 hectares have been covered under its Social Forestry program at an estimated cost of 342.47 lakhs.

Furthermore, the report pointed out that of the supposed pillars to be erected covering a distance of 1235 kms after proper demarcation of the boundary of the existing 1038.65 sq km of reserved forest under the department, the pillars have been erected over a distance of 93.50 kms only while 16.28 sq km of the reserved forest area have been encroached upon.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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