By Luke Rehmat
KALASH VALLEY, July 13: Fire is spreading around the Acugha valley and adjoining areas at a very high speed. The main place is Bitiligiri where the fire has erupted and is spreading to the surrounding areas.
The fire erupted due to the labourers who were cutting trees in the area according to initial report. But there may be other reasons as well. People of Kalash valley Mumuret especially those from Anish and Darasguru village, including forces, are taking part to cope with the situation in the valleys. Local sources added that forces had come to the valley but so far done thing. They further added that only dozens of people were there and trying their best to stop the spread of the fire to save shepherd houses. When this reporter asked the local youth was it possible to stop the fire from further damaging the forest they said it would be possible only if the government sent helicopters to control the fire. The fire which erupted on July 8 is at its peak, millions of trees have burnt to ashes which would be a great lost.
Since 2009 marking of the precious forest started which has created a big problem and disparities among the community. The forest department of the government of KP and some local elders who are involved in fake joint forest management committee had sold the forest to contractors without consultation with local people which harmed the unity among the people and a few people took advantage of the situation.
Due to legal marking and marketing of timbers caused huge problem for the valley people. In the beginning people were very happy that they will get lot of money through (Raiti), because they were unaware of consequences.
Forest department is helping timber mafias directly and indirectly, according to some sources when there is marking in forest then there would not be allow issuing permits to further destruction of the forest. But in Acugha valley all limits had been ended.
Legal cuttings, illegal cuttings and marking of precious cedar trees which are liable to be main reasons of disparities among youth say youths in Kalash valleys.
Now whom to blame the elders or forest department? Due to deforestation people have witnessed many challenges in form of floods in Pakistan during 2010. Now the situation is going to be worst and worst. We are not learn from past and never learn in future if we do not think the way people think in developed part of the globe. While writing this piece of information I recall the days when I was watching a film title ‘’2012’’ where geological changes were highlighted. Changes happening fast and the approach of government has forwarded very slowly.
In case of Kalash valleys the forest is main source of livelihood, we depends on fire-woods and for grassing the animals in high pastures says local shepherds while talking with this subscriber. One of the shepherds told that in the light of the big fire goats and sheep’s were out on the mountains for grassing although the Bitiligeri is about 1 and half away kilometers from the shepherd’s temporary settlement. Till filling this report the fire was reached on the top of Batrik forest (Nila’ Res’). And there were no news of control on the fire.
Luke Rehmat is the CEO of Kalash People’s Development Network and a social activist from Kalash valleys.