After despondency and disappointment for five years during which the entire country, including the limited forests of Chitral, were ruthlessly dilapidated by the previous government, the recent policy statement of KP environment minister Mr. Haji Ibrar Hussain regarding banning of all types of cutting of forests is highly appreciable.
As environment activists, we always tried our best to control the ruthless cutting of green tress in the forest of Chitral under the garb of marking by a few members of timber mafia along with the forest department officials but all the time forest department gave deaf ear to our reservation regarding marking (artificial harvesting) which almost bankrupted forests of Chitral. After having policy statement of KP Environment Minster we realized that changed almost took place in KP, under the charismatic leadership of Imran Khan who has zero tolerance for corruption and which was hall-mark of his recent success in the election. As worker we would like to guide the honorable minister to forward his agenda under the following principles so that deforestation in KP could be controlled.
1. In the previous government tremendous damage was done with the forest of Chitral in the garb of marking, by FDC, District Forest Department and timber mafia and large numbers of green cutting took place in the forest of Shishikuh, Arandu and Kalash Vallesy. If an independent and impartial enquiry has been initiated we will also provide assistance to the enquiry team about the damages which was carried out by timber mafia, while district forest department became silent spectator of the whole process. It is also requested that all type of Harvesting by FDC should be banned which the only cause of deforestation is according to our experience and observation. In nutshell Forest Development Corporation (FDC) is not a corporation protecting forests, rather it is destroying forest and it should be re-named as Forest Destroying Corporation.
2. In the previous government large number of saw-machine has been established in every nook and corner of Chitral by the members of timber mafia after violating rules and principles in this regard.
These saw-machines are major contributors in deforestation and proper enquiry may kindly be undertaken to find out whether these machines are being established according to forest rules or otherwise. And those saw-machines which have been established against forest rules should be closed with immediate effect. Especially in Drosh area large numbers of such machines have been established which are causing serious damage to forest in southern Chitral.
3. It has also been observed that every year FDC allow marking of windfall, dry standing and diseased deodar trees in the forest of Chitral in order to ensure regeneration in proper manner. But forest department officials along with FDC give free hands to timber contractors and they do not follow harvesting of windfall or dry standing but they cut green and healthy deodar trees for their pecuniary benefit. This is the major cause of deforestation in Chitral. In this regard it is requested that all type of FDC marking plan should be banned forever, if KP government is interested in protecting of Chitral Forest.
4. KP Environment minister mentioned irregularities in the forest of Mansehra, we would like to invite the honorable minister attention towards Chitral forests which are at the verge of total destruction, if timely and proper action is not taken well in time.
5. Although irregularity also arises during issuance of permit to local personals for construction of houses etc but in Chitral FDC artificial harvesting is the prime cause of deforestation, proper check may kindly be place on issuance of TP as well so that timber mafia could not use this facility for local community for their own benefits.
6. When FDC timbers are transported from Chitral to down country by contractors, it also provides very attractive opportunity of smuggling for timber mafia. Timber mafia members’ mixes their illegally collected timber with FDC timber and smuggle to down country by giving them numbers as the property of FDC.
We highly appreciate the steps of Honorable Minister for Environment Haji Ibrar Hussain and assure him that all the people of Chitral will support him if he takes concrete steps for controlling deforestation in this beautiful district of KP. Due to its natural beauty and peaceful environment large numbers of tourists visit Chitral every year and boost up economic activities in the district as well as in the whole country. But unfortunately a few members of timber mafia are playing with the destiny of the whole country and destroying oxygen of people and whole nation become help-less before them; what an irony?
Rehmat Ali Jaffardost,