Photo depicting the path of the flash flood entering the village Thunag in Mandi

Forest authorities clarify Thunag flash flood controversy in HP”

Shimla, July 12

In a viral video depicting the aftermath of a flash flood in Thunag, Mandi, social media users have expressed concerns regarding the hundreds of logs that entered the village alongside the floodwaters. It is being widely speculated that these logs, were appearing to be the product of illegal logging, contributed to the extensive destruction witnessed in Thunag village, Siraj, Mandi.

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The concerns surrounding the controversy are that typically, flash floods carry uprooted trees and debris, including branches and stems. However, the presence of numerous logs in this case strongly suggested that either a forest corporation depot was located nearby or the trees were illegally felled and subsequently dumped, eventually drifting with the floodwaters.

Experts familiar with such incidents, drawing on the recent matter before the Himachal Pradesh High Court, have indicated that this possibility could be plausible.

Also read:High Court of Himachal forms committee to investigate allegations of Illegal tree felling in Mandi district

The High Court had established a committee, consisting of the Deputy Commissioner of Mandi, the Superintendent of Police, Mandi, and the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Mandi, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition. The petition, based on a letter from Raju, a resident of VPO Chail Chowk in Mandi District, alleged the illegal felling of a significant number of trees within the Nachan Forest Division over the past five years. The petitioner further claimed that unauthorized roads had been constructed by clearing trees from dense forests without obtaining clearance under the Forest Conservation Act. Notably, the destruction occurred despite the presence of a sanctuary region encompassing approximately a 10-kilometer radius of the Shikari Devi-Dehar Road.
The flash flood came from the right in the cliff shown in photo. On the left is the old landslide

However, SS Kashyap, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Nachan, vehemently denied such concerns. He personally visited the site and conducted an inquiry, stating that the flash flood site was approximately 2 kilometers away from Thunag. The region surrounding the site is densely forested, and there was a pre-existing slide from the previous year adjacent to the current one caused by the flash flood. The DFO explained that trees uprooted from both slides, new and old, drifted together toward the village along with the floodwaters, leading to the presence of fallen logs.

DFO Kashyap justified the reduced size of the floating logs, stating that during their journey, trees of significant length would naturally be reduced in size as roots and stems get entangled with other obstacles encountered along the way. He clarified that only 50-60 trees were uprooted and carried by the flash flood.

Additionally, the DFO dismissed the possibility of illegal dumping on the cliff side. He rather praised the local community, emphasizing their economic well-being and easy access to Timber Distribution (TD) due to other vegetation in the area, suggesting that illegal logging is not prevalent in the region.

Thunag is a small village in the vicinity of Nachna forest range. Part of former CM Jairam Thakur’s Siraj constituency the village is surrounded by various densely forested areas.


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