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ANANTNAG: In a major breach of rule and violation of orders, a private company has cut down over hundreds of trees in Kokernag under the garb of power project, while district administration had no clue what was happening in the forests.  District administration Anantnag will, now be launching an investigation into a massive cutting down of hundreds of trees in compartment No’s 96, 97 in Kokernag to pave way for Hydroelectric power project, authorities had however cleared felling of only 14 trees.

 According to sources, a large number of Kail and Fir trees were cut down in connivance with the forest officials in compartment No’s 96, 97 in Kokernag to pave way for Hydroelectric power project.  Sources told KNB that “About three hundred Kail and Fir trees have been felled in the compartment No’s.96 and 97 and dumped in ditches by a private company O2Z (Private Industrial Limited) to which the officials and officers have turned a blind eye.

It is pertinent to mention that a Hydro Electric Power Project is being constructed at village Ichoo in Tehsil Kokernag, District Anantnag for which the forest department has given NOC for felling of 14 trees. They said that private company dumped those trees in the said forest so that nobody could know about their 'nefarious design.’ “The forest officials never bothered to visit the spot for checking and it seems that there is an involvement of forest officials,” sources added.

KNB is in possession of Government sanction order copy under order No: 15/- FST of 2016 Dated 27/5/2016 in which the department mentions the use of 2.385 Ha. of forest land for construction of 1.60 MW MHP Ichoo in Anantnag forest Division by JAKEDA on terms and conditions. The order mentions that only 14 green trees were permitted to O2z (Industrial Private Limited) Company to cut down, as the trees were an obstacle to their work. However the said company violated norms and slashed illegally hundreds of trees without any NOC of concerned department.

“There seems very less development against the damage caused by the user agency,” they confided. "The forest proposal was approved by competent authority in May 2016. However in April 2017, the user agency has applied for additional land which is not yet sanctioned as the work on that has already completed", Sources added. Sources further confided that the Ichoo vailoo Hydro- electric Project which got NOC from Fisheries Department for a capacity of 1.60 MW has been modified and re-aligned for a capacity of 5.0 MW in year 2017 without the consent/ NOC from the concerned department. 

Meanwhile, The Chief Conservator for the Forest department of Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Geelani said that the company had sent a revised application for obtaining of the NOC from his department and he will get the matter checked. "I will get the facts checked and as per my knowledge, the constructing agency had sent a revised proposal for seeking the NOC to the Forest Advisory Committee, which has not been cleared yet. I will constitute a committee and send a team on spot to see if some trees have been chopped without the consent from our department,” said Chief Conservator Forests, Farooq Ahmad Geelani. However the District Commissioner Anantnag Mohd Younis Malik told KNB that he will also make an inquiry committee that will investigate the matter.