It's not development if it begins by felling trees. Certainly not sustainable if the piece of land was once a reserve forest area.

The police have booked former Uttarakhand DGP BS Sidhu, along with seven others for allegedly acquiring a reserve forest area illegally in 2012. He has also been slapped with sections for felling 25 sal trees in the area in 2013. The price of the land, situated in Bir Girwali area of Rajpur Range, was around Rs 1.25 crore.

Felling of trees in Kagan area in Kashmir
Representational image

What the FIR says?

As per the First Information Report filed on the complaint of Mussoorie forest division divisional forest officer Ashutosh Singh, Sidhu allegedly misused his position to harass and pressurize forest officials. It also claims that Sidhu filed a 'fake' case against a few individuals in July 2013 who raised the issue and red-flagged it.

As per the report, the individual from whom Sidhu claims to have bought the land died in 1982. Uttarakhand government finally gave its nod to the complaint and the FIR was registered on October 23 in Dehradun's Rajpur police station.

BS Sidhu
BS SidhuImage@social media

When was it declared a reserved forest area?

As per a notification dated February 22, 1968, "The area had been notified as a reserved forest under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act." As per a notification dated May 1, 1970, the land was declared a reserve forest under Section 20 of the above-mentioned Act.

Who are the seven others?

Among the seven others booked, include Mahendra Singh, Nathu Ram, Deepark Sharma, Smita Dikshit, Subhash Sharma, Krishna and former revenue official Shujauddin. Apart from charging the accused with several sections under corruption and forgery, the FIR also books them under Sections 166 (public servant disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person), Section 419 (cheating by personation).

This is not the first time that the matter has come under the scanner and been red-flagged. In 2018, the National Green Tribunal imposed a penalty on Sidhu for illegally felling 25 sal trees. The matter was also raised in the Rajya Sabha in 2014.