THE state government has decided to make its revenue officers – deputy collectors, mamlatdars and talathis – accountable for any new constructions or extension of houses made by cutting the slopes of hills. Let us hope the Parsekar government means what it says. Hill cutting has been a rapacious scourge: right from real estate developers to hospitality businesses to private house owners have been the cause of it. Hills are everybody’s property, but since there is no vigilance, people see it as nobody’s property and cut hills to make way for constructions or house extensions. In Baga, some persons cut a way to the seafront by cutting a hill. Last year the town planner of Ponda Richard Caldeira filed a complaint with police against Raghoba Gaonkar for cutting a hill at Bethora in Ponda taluka. Hill cutting is an offence and the men accused of it can be arrested and prosecuted. The state government’s decision to make its revenue officers accountable for hill cutting presupposes that they have to keep a constant vigil to prevent it happening. The decision came at the meeting of State Disaster Management Authority on Thursday which noted that the landslides during monsoons were often caused by illegal cutting of hills. Landslide is only a symptom of the scourge. Hills have an important role to play in environmental conservation. Cutting of hills without permission must be stopped. People will watch how effective the vigilance of the revenue officers is in this regard. There have been cases of illegal hill cutting in connivance with officials. The first thing expected of the deputy collectors, mamlatdars and talathis therefore is non-involvement as accomplices in the crime of hill cutting.
Crime of Hill Cutting
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