Red Cross in soup over tree felling
Darjeeling, July 17: The land and land reforms department has filed an FIR against the Darjeeling Red Cross Society for chopping trees on its compound without requisite permission from the authorities.
The Red Cross said the trees had to be felled as they were standing precariously, posing threat to people passing through B.M. Chatterjee Road here.
An official of the Darjeeling subdivisional land and land reforms department said yesterday: "We have found seven tree stumps, mostly of local varieties like uthis and pine, on the premises (of the Red Cross's office). We checked records and found that Red Cross had neither informed us about the felling of trees nor sought permission. An FIR was filed against the Red Cross with Darjeeling Sadar police today (Thursday). The Red Cross has been charged under Section 4A of the West Bengal Land and Land Reforms Act."
The official said according to procedures, the land department should be informed before one fells trees. "After receiving information, an inspection is conducted and a report is sent to the district land and land reforms officer through the Darjeeling subdivisional officer. It is only after receiving permission from the office can one fell the trees," said the official.
In emergency cases where a tree is standing precariously and posing danger to human lives and property, permission is granted immediately, said the official. "In such cases, the department will allow the person concerned to fell trees immediately after a preliminary investigation even before the full procedure is completed," said the official.
The Red Cross, which has around 300 life members and is known for its social work, today said they had cut the trees as they were posing threat to human lives.
"Our honourary secretary, Suman Das Pradhan, is not keeping well and is presently in Siliguri. We decided to fell the trees as one of the trees had been uprooted by strong winds recently and the other trees were weak. Students of Miniland Nursery School, Turnbull High School, Nepal Girls' Secondary School and municipal boys' and girls' schools move along the road on whose edge the trees were located. We thought we had to take prompt action to protect human lives," said Captain (retd) Prem Tamang, 67, a life member of the Red Cross.
Asked about the action by the land department, Tamang said: "We were in the process of writing to the authorities and we had held a meeting of the Red Cross on Wednesday."