Profiting from Shade Trees
Planting shade trees is vital for any tea garden. These trees not only provide necessary shade to the tea bushes they protect, but they are also vital in preventing soil erosion.
The Government of India’s Department of Forests has laws against unauthorized cutting down of these shade trees. If a tea estate wishes to cut down a tree, it must first obtain permission from the Conservator of Forests. By law, if a tree is cut down, the timber must be distributed to the workers as firewood.
Unfortunately, it appears that a few tea gardens are subverting the law and hiring private contractors to fell trees and then sell the timber.
According to the Conservator of Forests, Mr. M.R Balooch:
It is a serious crime and untold sums get exchanged in the process. What makes it all the more serious is that the forest department does not issue transit pass for transporting shade tree stumps from the plantations, yet it is happening depriving the workers and flouting the forest rules.
The law is a good one. I just hope they can enforce it.
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