Srinagar: Notwithstanding its tall claims on forest protection, the State government has been unable to check the vandalisation of green-gold by timber smugglers in different forest ranges of the Kashmir valley.
According to the reports smugglers go scot free as they cut trees with impunity in forest areas of Sogam including compartment number 17, 18, 19, 21,25,28,27 SL by smugglers.
Similarly in the dense forests of Shangus, Verinag, Raithan, Beerwah and Chadoora, reports said that the rampant loot is going on right under the nose of authorities.
Budgam forest range witnesses vandalization despite the presence of Forest Protection Force personnel. “In the name of the forest protection, some horses carrying illegal timber are occasionally seized to gain publicity and when the news dies down, they too are released unofficially,” alleged Fayaz Ahmad of Berwah Budgam.
Reports received by the KNS also said that illegal timber smuggling is going on unabated in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district while the authorities are acting as mute spectators.
Sources said that in Shalgund Sumbal area of the district, the smugglers were indulging in illegal timber smuggling.
According to officials there are reports of trees being chopped down in Doodganaga range, Rithan range, Beerwah range, Kothar range, Tangmarg, Rafiabad, Doabgah range and Kandi range and in the forest areas of Ganderbal.
Sources said that the forest smugglers in Kath-Hallan woods, Yarwan woods and Khrew woods have also cut down scores of trees without any hesitation and official check.
Officials said that due to the ongoing unrest, the police and forest guards aren’t guarding forests and the smugglers are continuing unabated loot of the forests.
Meanwhile, in several forest areas of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district including Rajwar, Ramhal, Nutnusa, Check, Kandi and others, the timber smuggling is going unabated.
Villagers alleged that on some occasion the felling of trees continues for many days and at times 10 to 20 trees are cut in a day.
“At least 50 to 100 smugglers are active in the range. And hundreds of horses carrying timber move out of the area daily,” they alleged, adding that the smuggling has been encouraged by inaction on part of the concerned authorities.
The smugglers burn the tree stumps to give an impression that the tress have been cut long back and are old. At many places locals alleged that one of the main reason for smuggling was the “rude behavior” of the authorities.
The situation is worse in the forest areas of the Chadoora range also known as Doodganga forest range. The locals blame authorities for the menace.
“There is a proper set deal for the smugglers. If their trap becomes public then they are being jailed and if not then authorities on the spot accept the bribe and set them free,” said a forest official, wishing anonymity.
A senior officer in the forest department admitted that they have been getting complaints about some areas. “Whenever we get such complaints we take the cognizance and act on it, but we want people should support us to control this growing menace,” he added. (KNS)