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Himachal forester resigns after legislator's threats

Himachal Pradesh,Environment/Wildlife,Politics, Sun, 25 Mar 2012 IANS

Shimla, March 25 (IANS) A forest official in Himachal Pradesh has reportedly resigned from service after being threatened by a legislator for seizing a tractor-load of logs being transported illegally to Punjab. Officials said a probe has been ordered and the forester asked to withdraw his resignation.


Irate over the threats by legislator Rakesh Pathania, said to be a close confidant of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Deputy Ranger (Nurpur forest division) Baldev Krishan put in papers.


"I was threatened and abused by Pathania over phone when I seized a tractor loaded with 13 logs of shisham (Indian rosewood) on the night of March 22," Krishan told IANS.


He said the wood was being transported from Nurpur town to Punjab without permit.


Under the Himachal Pradesh Land Preservation Act of 1978, the forest department permission is mandatory for transporting wood.


"Working under such circumstances has really become difficult. So I have decided to resign 15 months before my actual superannuation," Krishan added.


Officials of the forest department said pressure has been built on Krishan to withdraw his resignation as it might be an embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.


They said the people involved in transporting the wood were closely associated with the legislator.


Divisional Forest Officer J.C. Katoch said Krishan's resignation has not been accepted.


"An inquiry has been ordered as the wood was being transported without permit. The trees were felled from private land but government permission is mandatory. Moreover, forest produce can't be transported at night," he said.


Pathania, an independent legislator from Nurpur, is an associate member of the BJP.


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