Cutting of green trees by fake forest management body unearthed

CHITRAL, July 4:  The forest department of Chitral has claimed to have unearthed illegal cutting of green trees in the Kalash valleys by some local people after establishing a fake forest management committee.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Chitral Shaukat Fayyaz told that the joint forest management committee (JFMC) had been organized under the chairmanship of Noor Shahiden with fake signatures of people as its members. This committee was also registered by the forest department on the recommendation of Noor Shahideen.

The DFO Chitral said someone informed him that 43 green trees of deodar, kail and fir had been felled illegally in connivance with the forest development corporation (FDC). On the direction of Chief Conservator Hashim Ali Khan and conservator Shah Wazir, the DFO detailed subdivisional forest officers Ehsanuddin and Fazal Khaliq as inquiry officers.

They went to the forest of Achulgah compartment No 9 and 10 and during the inquiry, it was proved that 143 green deodar, kail and fir had been cut illegally and turned into 187,540 cusec feet of timber, causing millions of rupees loss to the forest department. The DFO Chitral added that the concerned people involved in the crime would be fined Rs1,000 per tree and after assessment of its market value, another fine would be charged from them.

He said subdivisional forest officer Mohammad Yousuf, Mohammad Rahim forester and Ahmad Baig were involved in the crime and legal action would be taken against them. He said those who had illegally cut green trees were taken into custody by the forest department. He said only windfall and dry standing trees can be cut according to 2004 forest policy and green tree cannot be felled at any cost.

He said Abdul Hadi, a local person, had complained to the police regarding the fake and illegal JFMC of Noor Shahideen and police were also investigating the case. He said a fraud case would be also registered against Noor Shahideen, Malik Shahi, Sirajuddin as well as Saifur Rehman, deputy forest manager, and assistant forest manager who were also involved in the gang.

Sources said that Haji Mohammad Khan was the carriage contractor and being a local person of Ayun he did not play his role to inform the concerned authority regarding the illegal cutting of green trees to stop it on time. The forest department framed charges and sent the case to high-ups for further necessary action. The sources said the secretary forest department was the authorized person who can reduce the fine if he was approached by politicians or pressurized by other people.

A top government official in Chitral also told this correspondent that the contract had been awarded to Abdul Lateef, the president of PTI Chitral, who had sublet it to Haji Mohammad Khan. Social and political circles of Chitral have demanded of the chief minister KP and the forest department to take stern action against the culprits and the forest staff involved in the crime.

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