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Action sought against timber mafia

PESHAWAR, May 26: The residents of Ayun village in Chitral have expressed grave concern over the growing deforestation in the district and demanded of the provincial government to take immediate action against the timber mafia and save the remaining trees.

Speaking at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, a member of Muttahida Council Ayun (MCA), Fazalur Rehman said when the locals held a rally against the deforestation in the area recently, the administration charged them under the anti-terrorism law.

“We are peaceful and law-abiding people, but will not accept cutting of the thick forests in different parts of the district,” he maintained.

Flanked by Nazir Mohammad Khan, Shaifqur Rehman, Rafi Ahmed and other elders of the area, Mr Rehman said an organized timer mafia was involved in cutting of the precious pine forests in the south of the valley and if prompt action was not taken the area would be changed into desert.

He added that deforestation was carried out on the pretext of windfall but it was wrong as immature trees had also been cut down. However, he said the timber mafia was involved in chopping green tress in different parts of Chitral.

He demanded immediate stoppage of deforestation in Rambur, Birir, Bamboret and Achoulga valleys. The activist of MCA said the peaceful people of the area were being implicated in terrorism cases by the timber mafia for raising their voices against this illegal and unethical deforestation.

He demanded putting an end to registration of cases against the locals and said that registered cases should be withdrawn immediately.

“A judicial inquiry was carried out but its findings were yet to be made public,” he said, and added that they would fully comply with its decisions.

He said Chitral’s population was around 600,000 and only two per cent of the area had forest cover and that timber mafia was depriving the area of its precious forests. Mr Rehman demanded increase in the number of permits which at present stands at 60 feet for local population for construction purposes to 500 feet and putting an end to deforestation.

The timber of the windfall, he said, should be given to the local population as there was no other source of fuel for them. He urged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take notice of the growing deforestation in the region and withdrawal of cases against locals and judicial inquiry into deforestation.–Dawn

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