Recently PTI chief Imran Khan visited Mansehra and directed the provincial government to take stern action against the timber mafia and those elements involved in deforestation. The step is highly appreciable and across the board people took it as revolutionary initiative as high level government functionaries took a bold step against all powerful timber mafia. In the past, we brought incidents of heinous deforestation into the notice of government authorities but to no avail, as government functionaries and political forces were behind the crime of deforestation. But Imran Khan and PTI government has one thing unique in and remained firm throughout their stay in provincial government that they are out rightly negating corruption in all its form and manifestation, and practically they demonstrated in the province.
For the last many years Chitral has been passing through its period of survival and its natural beauty is eroding in each passing day through timber mafia. Chitral plays a vital role in establishing echo-system in the country like head play vital in survival of the body. Majority of glaciers located in Chitral which provide water to down country in the form of Kabul River (Actually Chitral River) as it originate from Chitral and irrigate fertile lands in southern parts of Pakistan. But unfortunately timber mafia played with destiny of Chitral and harvested green deodar trees in limited forest areas of Shishikuh, Kalash Valleys, Arandu, Ursoon etc in the garb of marking and artificial harvesting and completely exposed the whole district to devastating flash floods and continuous bursting of Glaciers which put life of the area into miserable condition. Especially village Sonoghore and Booni severely hit in the recent past due to burst of glacier which was direct result of global warming and has direct link with deforestation in the area.
Having information about deforestation in the above mentioned areas as environmental activist I personally visited the areas and witnessed heinous form of green cutting and devastating deforestation which was carried out by timber mafia in the garb of marking/artificial harvesting. Usually artificial harvesting are carried out for promotion of forest and providing spacious growth opportunity to green plants by removing wind-fall trees, dry standing and snow fall trees from the forest area. However in case of Chitral artificial harvesting/marking provide golden opportunity to timber mafia to mint money and become rich within twinkling of eyes.
The respective contractor who acquire contract of artificial harvesting/marking exterminate healthy green deodar trees in the forest in collaboration with the official of forest department instead of collecting wind-fall and dry standing and sale these timber in the black market above Rs.5000 cubic feet while he himself pay to local people and government about Rs.500 per cubic feet as royalty and become billionaire in one contract. The respective contractor/timber mafia also grease palm of local forest official and they give him free hand to play with destiny of green trees hence both forest officials and contractor earn money at the cost of devastating floods in the area. Timber mafia also use different tactics like burning of forest, partial cutting of green trees etc which provide them an opportunity to get contract of marking.
If government of KP initiate impartial and independent enquiry commission to probe into heinous deforestation in Chitral, as environmental activists I will definitely provide data to the commission which I have collected by personal visit of the affected forest areas in District Chitral. And the people of Chitral warmly welcome initiative of PTI government and request to take stern action against timber mafia who are behind deforestation in Chitral.
Rehmat Ali Jaffardost
Environmental activist Chitral
Mob No: 03005219215