Damage to forests in Bandipora due to tree chopping

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The green gold loot is going unabated in Aloosa village of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district as the concerned department is in deep slumber.

Locals in Aloosa village alleged that a nexus between the smugglers and Forest Department officials has become a reason for destruction of forest wealth.

Locals told a local news agency, Kashmir News Bureau (KNB) that “Timber smugglers are chopping the trees without any fear or hesitation during night hours.”

Some individuals along with labourers cut down trees illegally, load it in vehicles and later sell it in various parts of the district, they added.

“Cutting of green trees is now common in our villages and unfortunately, the department is aware of all the information but they failed to take any action against the culprits and gave them free hand to earn illegal money,” said a local.

The locals of the area further alleged that the concerned forester in the area is in collusion with the smugglers and said that the officer is working against his position meant to provide safety to the forest.

According to reports, a committee was constituted by the forest department to find the facts. After the committee’s initial finding, a couple of tree stubbles were found in compartment number 9 and 10 of the Aloosa forest. An official privy to the developments said that a report has also been submitted to concerned DFO and after that the officer would be likely charged an amount, to be deducted from his pay.

Given the locals’ allegation of huge destruction wrecked on Aloosa forest as they have been witness to it, but the department has come across only two stubbles in the forest during their investigation, which raises questions on the committee constituted to find out the truth.

Moreover, locals of the area have appealed to higher authorities to look into this serious matter and take strict action against the timber smugglers as soon as possible, so that the precious forest can be saved.

On speaking to Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Bandipora regarding the issue, he said that “it will be first seen if the damage has been registered so that we can think over it and if it is not registered then recovery will be effected from those officers.”

On questioning him whether an action will be taken against the accused forester once found complicit in illegal tree chopping, he first agreed and subsequently said that damage noticed seems to be dereliction of duties of staff.

When KNB asked about the contradiction between locals’ claims of huge damaged wrecked on the forest and committee’s report mentioning that only a couple of stubbles were found, DFO said, “No, we had two parties (looking the issue) and only the given damage was found, nothing else.” (KNB)

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