KOCHI: The Social Forestry Wing of the Forest Department has received nearly 700 complaints this year over the illegal cutting of trees in Ernakulam, hampering the green cover of the district.M A Anaz, assistant conservator of Forests, Ernakulam, however, said action will be taken only after the due procedures. “If we receive a complaint, we conduct a valuation and give a report to the concerned station house officer. Legal action will be taken by the police,” he said.
Recently, Sunil Varghese, a member of the Environment Monitoring Forum, a group of green activists in Kochi, submitted a complaint to the department on the illegal cutting of trees in South Park, Jawahar Nagar.
“In the name of beautification and development, trees are cut down. No effort is made to save them. The green cover in Kochi is compromised one way or the other,” said Varghese.Based on the complaint, the department will undertake a detailed investigation regarding the ownership of the property and look into the reason for cutting down massive shade trees in the park, an officer said.Without the knowledge of residents in the area, the residents’ association too has cut massive shade trees in South Park.
“The trees cause no concern to families staying near the park. The association took the drastic step of cutting down the trees without the knowledge of the residents,” said Laiju George, said a local resident.
Meanwhile, Jawahar Nagar Residents Association secretary T K Kurien said as part of beautification the trees have only been pruned.
“The trees were growing wild and we got a couple of complaints from residents. The trees posed a threat to the residents. Since the park belongs to the association we pruned them,” he said.Anas said the Social Forestry Wing can take action only over the illegal cutting of trees on forest lands.“The Social Forestry Department cannot take a case against any councillor or private party for cutting and removing trees belonging to the public, including on roads,” he said.
Anas said earlier the department had received a complaint against KUFOS for illegally cutting and removing a tree.“We handed over a valuation report and action was taken. In this matter too, we will conduct investigation and a valuation report will be handed to the Kadavanthara police station,” he said.