SRINAGAR: Even as the Valley remained locked up by curfew and hartal, timber smugglers have had a field day in the forests of north and south Kashmir, reports said.
Sources said that reports of timber smuggling had increased throughout the valley during curfew, but authorities were acting as mute spectators.
The DFO for the Handwara-Rajwara range, Tauheed Ahmad Deva, confirmed the loot of forest wealth, but said that lack of adequate manpower and the ill-equipped forest protection force made checking timber smuggling difficult.
Still I have set up a Control Room and engaged volunteers for doing the job, and our employees are maintaining a strict vigil, Deva was quoted by the CNS as having said. However, acccording to the forest officer, the volume of smuggling in the Handwara-Rajwara range was lower than in other areas.
This entire forest range has only one ranger. Two of the rangers have retired recently and one ranger has been promoted to some higher post. In such a situation it has become difficult to tame these timber smugglers, he said, urging the government to fill up the vacancies to check the forest loot in the region.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.