Officers inspect forest areas after statement by Karnataka Biodiversity Board Chairman Anant Hegde Ashisara
The Forest Department officers of Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga districts have disputed Karnataka Biodiversity Board Chairman Anant Hegde Ashisara’s recent statement that 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 of the board’s chairman, after spot visits.
Mr. Ashisara, in a press release recently, had said that he had received complaints of large-scale tree cutting at Vagarerahalli in the Kadur range. He had stated forest vegetation in 480 acres had been lost. In Balur forest of Mudigere taluk, 472 trees had been cut and in Koppa division, more than 42 acres of forest had been lost. He also listed similar incidents in parts of Sorab, Hosanagar and Thirthahalli taluks in Shivamogga district.
The chairman had said that miscreants had exploited the lockdown situation to cut trees, and that he had submitted a report based on the information gathered to Forest Minister Arvind Limbavali.
Following the claims, senior officers visited the places cited 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, who wished not to be named, said, “No major tree felling has happened in the recent days.”
In Chikkamagaluru, Deputy Conservators of Forests conducted inspection and submitted reports. Sunil Panwar, Conservator of Forests of Chikkamaglauru, visited two places and submitted a report. “I have inspected the spots and the forest area is intact. We will verify if the board chairman gives us specific information about any illegal tree cutting 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 that he would discuss the issue after a few days.
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