Minister intervention plea in felling shade trees

Tea planters in the Dooars and Terai have sought the forest minister’s intervention in felling shade trees.

No shade tree can be cut without the permission of the respective panchayat within which the garden is located. However, since the process involved is lengthy, planters feel the utilisation of Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) — under which old bushes will be uprooted and new saplings of shade trees planted — will receive a setback.

The applications for felling are made to panchayats first, which in turn recommend them to the district level tea committee, which takes the final decision and intimates the applicant garden.

“In many cases, it takes about a year,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association. “We want the process to be simplified and have invited forest minister Ananta Roy to a meeting. He is yet to respond.”

Some planters alleged that permissions were often determined by how felled trees were utilised. “When it is a commercial felling, that is, the timber is sold through the forest department, the permission comes early,” a garden owner said. However, when the timber is consumed within the garden as firewood, the permission takes a year to come, he alleged.

Foresters, however, blamed incomplete applications and absence of necessary documents as the cause for delay.

M.R. Baluch, the conservator of forests (northern circle), hinted that a new arrangement would be operational soon. “The range officer will grant permission for felling shade trees. But the entire sales proceeds will have to be used for workers’ welfare.”

Source: The Telegraph