Cannot cut trees on one"s own land

When Bijaya Chandra Panda wanted to cut down a few trees on his 8 hectare (ha) plot he thought he was well within his rights to do so. Little did he realize that it would take him 300 applications, 20 petitions under the Right to Information Act, 2005 and more than two years to get permission to cut down the trees.

Panda hails from Birsinghgarh village of Orissa's Sambalpur distict. But his family hadn't always lived there. "We were displaced by the Hirakud dam in the 1950s,' he says. Panda's family purchased land from the compensation money, and Panda inherited 8 ha of that. "In 2005, I needed money to pay for my children's higher education. So I decided to fell trees on half of my holding and raise the money by selling wood. I also wanted to cut down the trees because I had decided to grow cash crops on the land.' Panda, who comes from a politically conscious family

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