‘Blue-eyed boys picked as conservation body members’

CHITRAL, Oct 28: The people of Seen Lusht have alleged that the divisional forest officer of the wildlife department in Chitral used shady ways and procedure in the election of office-bearers for the village conservation committee (VCC) to accommodate his blue-eyed boys. 

Talking to this correspondent here on Monday, conservation worker Mohammad Hakim Khan said the VCC had been established a decade back to conserve the population of Kashmir markhor which was drifting towards extinction in Toshi and Shasha area. He said that the basic aim of establishing the VCC was to get the local people engaged in the conservation work and inculcate in them the spirit of maintaining a balance in eco-system with major of providing the much needed protection to the endangered species of markhor.

Mr. Hakim said as per terms of reference of the VCC, its office-bearers were elected by the concerned community for a specific period who run its affairs and ensure the conservation of markhor and other endangered species from poaching.

He said that the DFO of wildlife department had always tried to pick the persons of his choice so that they could yield to all his dictations while a vibrant and efficient VCC keeps an effective check on the working of the wildlife department as well. He said that 80 percent of the trophy hunting fee markhor goes to the local VCC who spend it for the collective development of the community and this fund is utilized by the committee which makes the selection of the office-holders a crucial one.

Mr. Hakim said that the Seen Lusht VCC has performed very badly in the last term and poaching of worst kind were reported in the conservancy due to the sheer inefficiency of the VCC office-holders which also failed badly to check the grazing of goats in the core area of conservancy due to which a large number of markhors perished after contracting illness from the goats.

He alleged that the officer concerned imposed the same person Israr Nabi as president of the VCC for the next term and he bypassed all the set procedures and rules for the election or selection of the committee office-bearers. He said that the officer did not want to check poaching in the area and never acted to discourage and check  poachers.–Zahiruddin