Just before listing of the two cases pertaining to felling of Khair (Acacia catechu) trees in Himachal Pradesh in the Supreme Court of India on 10th May 2023, the State Government seek to put forth its legal stance in the Apex court to waive off the condition of felling of khair trees out of the purview of ‘ten years felling programme’ to give relief to the farmers besides allowing them to axe the Khair as per their convenience.
Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said, “If the verdict of the Supreme Court goes in favour of the State Government, it will give much needed relief to the farmers as the permission of forest department will no longer be mandatory for felling Khair trees”. He said that farmers will be able to axe them as per their convenience and for monetary gain.
As ‘Katha’, which is a useful ingredient for making various medicines, is extracted from the Khair wood, the State Government will plea that silviculture felling of khair wood is better for forest management and rejuvenation, besides revenue generation for the State.
Earlier a Committee was also constituted to recommend on this issue as to how khair could be taken out of the ambit of ten years felling programme and to relax the provisions of Land Preservation Act in favour of the farmers of the State, has submitted the report to the Court and it is likely to be taken into consideration, said the Chief Minister.
In a similar case, the State Government is also likely to seek permission for felling of khair trees on government owned forest land across the State. The forest department also opines that felling of Khair should be allowed for the rejuvenation of the government forests because of its rejuvenation property.
The Supreme Court has allowed the felling of khair trees in the year 2018 on an experiment basis following a plea by the Forest Department. Recently, a Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court visited the areas where felling of khair trees was allowed by the Apex Court to get an idea about the results and the Committee has submitted its findings to the Court.
Chief Minister said that welfare of farming community was on the priority list of the present State Government and various decisions were being taken to benefit them. Khair is one of the components of agro-economy of the rural areas of Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, Sirmaur, Solan and Hamirpur districts.