61 tree-felling applications cleared in August: D’Souza

Refuting reports in a section of press, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Richard D’Souza has said that the forest department has been issuing licences for felling trees as per the rules and nothing extraordinary has been done while clearing 61 applications for felling trees in the month of August, this year.

Mr D’Souza told ‘The Navhind Times’ that there was no irregularity in issuing licences for felling trees and that most of the applicants were farmers from North Goa district, especially hailing from Sattari, Bicholim, and Pernem.
The Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests went on to add that many applications were pending for months, though the Tree Protection Acts provides for disposal of applications received from public for felling of a tree within 60 days.
Mr Pradip Verenkar, the deputy conservator of forests, who cleared the files for felling of trees, told this newspaper that he issued licences for felling of trees, including 14 files, through which the applicants have sought permission to cut around 300 trees that have been pending for over a period ranging from three months to eight months.
Mr Verenkar said that the farmers have been major beneficiaries of his decision making and accounted for 90 per cent of the approvals. He said that he allowed felling of 995 trees and not 1,083 as reported in a section of press and went on to add that the trees allowed to be felled were affecting arecanut and cashew plantations and their yield. He further stated that this decision would give boost to agriculture activity.
He further said that the applications for felling trees were actually addressed to the range forest officers of the respective ranges who after inspection forward the same with their reports and comments and that only if the cases were recommended the permissions were issued. He also said that not all the trees sought to be felled were allowed to be cut.
Stating that tree felling has been allowed only in the permissible period that begins in June and ends by October and that those issued licences to fell tree would have to follow the rules of planting two trees in lieu of one tree brought down, he also said that only mature trees have been allowed to be cut. He also said that other permissions were issued to those having conversion licences from authorities for housing purposes.
Meanwhile, sources in the department said that the forest official, who issued licences, was directed by superiors to clear the backlog of files as there have been complains from various people about delay in issuing licences and that the matter was discussed in the meeting of the senior forest officials. [NT]