Himachal to set up 10 more forest police stationsBy IANS
Thursday, January 14, 2010
SHIMLA - The Himachal Pradesh government is setting up 10 more forest police stations or ‘van thanas’ to combat organised forest crimes in the state.
“We (the government) are going to open 10 more forest police station to check illicit felling of trees and smuggling of flora and fauna. Our experiment of raising the special task force was quite successful and helped check forest crimes,” Forest Minister J.P. Nadda told IANS.
He said five new stations would be opened before March 31. The department had established five ‘van thanas’ last year.
Nadda said that the maximum number of smuggling cases is reported from Shimla, Sirmaur, Kullu, Chamba and Mandi districts.
“Earlier, we had set up forest police stations in Shimla, Sirmaur, Mandi and Kullu districts. This time we are going to add Kangra, Bilaspur and Chamba districts too,” he said.
The minister said the total economic value of the forests in the state has been estimated at Rs.1.5 lakh crore and “it’s important to preserve them”.
Each forest police station, headed by a deputy forest ranger, comprises eight to 10 forest guards. It deals exclusively with forest crimes.
“In the past six months, the five forest stations have registered eight timber smuggling cases and seized Rs.3.5 lakh-worth of timber. Most of the cases were registered in Kullu district,” Nadda said.
Himachal Pradesh is the second state after Madhya Pradesh where the special task force has been raised to check forest crimes.
The total geographical area of the hill state is 55,673 sq km, out of which 66.5 percent i.e. 37,033 sq km is classified as forest region.
The state is one of the storehouses of the biodiversity in the country. Out of the 45,000 species of flora species found in the country, 3,295 species are found in Himachal Pradesh. It is the largest supplier of chilgoza pine nut, kuth medicinal plant, dioscorea wild yam, dhoop incense, picrorrhiza, valeriana and ephedra in the country.