Tribals in Himachal Pradesh asserting their rights to lop trees

Tribals in Himachal Pradesh asserting their rights to lop treesKinnaur (HP), Mar 21 : Hundreds of tribal men and women marched with wood cutting tools and lopped tree branches demanding acceptance of their rights on forest trees.

Under the banner of Himachal Kisan Sabha, they lopped tree branches and raised slogans for their rights of gathering fuels woods in jungles.

Protesters lamented that the State Government has barred people from their legitimate rights over fuel wood and timber distribution.

Protesters said that by loping the trees and entering the forest lands they have not defied the government, but were trying to claim their age-old rights.

"They give thousands of trees to Jaypee (hydro power construction company) and they are axing thousands of trees here in our area. But we are not getting our right of the forest, which are in practice here from British era. It is as per law that trees should be given for funerals and for other purpose, but we are deprived of all those rights," said Twarik Ram, a tribal farmer.

Forest authorities, however, denied the allegations and said that they are provided with wood as per their requirements and rights, but are banned from lopping the trees.

"They have been allowed to lop the lower one-third of a tree, but we have banned the looping because once they climb the tree, they cut it completely from the top. Thus, we have banned them from it," said R. S. Jaswal, a forest officer. (ANI)