Govt hands in glove with timber mafia in destroying Chitral’s forests

While the PTI government has been making claims and working on a so-called billion tree tsunami afforestation project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it seems hands in gloves with the timber mafia in denuding Chitral of the forest cover.

On the one hand, local people are not allowed even to purchase and transport wood for construction of small houses within Chitral, trucks loaded with timber always make a beeline down to urban areas from Chitral.

Govt hands in glove with timber mafia in destroying Chitral's forestsThese timber mostly come from Arandu, Shishikoh and other forest areas of lower Chitral and is smuggled to down districts as far away as Peshawar and areas of Malakand division by the timber mafia.

In a post on social media, Shahzada Siraj Ulmulk on Tuesday said:  “Today 24 Dec 2019 I was travelling from Chitral to Islamabad. When I reached Drosh I was astonished to see trucks lined up loaded to the brim with precious timber obviously from the diminishing pine forests of Chitral.

“As I proceeded into my journey I started crossing more and more of such timber-loaded Bedford trucks. By the time I reached Chakdara I had counted more than 30 such trucks. Could someone tell us what is happening please?”

He said he had noted details of a few trucks. From the pictures you can see for yourself the wanton destruction that has taken place to our forests.

“I also saw piles and piles of timber lying by the riverside not far from Nagar Fort towards the Chitral side. I am sure it will not be difficult for anyone in authority to trace these trucks out if they act quickly in the next 24 hrs.

“Of course, the smugglers of this timber will have paper justifications handy to show that all this is being done very legally.”

Whose timber is this anyway?

Such papers may also justify the timber in the name of “windfalls” and “snowfalls” but no one in their right mind can believe this to be true.

Govt hands in glove with timber mafia in destroying Chitral's forestsUnless an immediate stop is put to this, after a proper inquiry, the prime minister’s pet project of the billion tree tsunami will have no meaning at all, he added.

 

Chitral’s forest a ‘windfall’ for timber mafia

WHO ARE THE CULPRITS?

The real culprit causing the present destruction to our forests is the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, the forestry, environment and wildlife departments.

Thousands of green trees were felled in Arandu in the name of windfall and snowfall by the timber mafia in Chitral and later were allowed to be disposed of. Under this government policy, trees that fall due to winds or heavy snow could be marketed in consultation with the local community.

But under the guise of this policy, green trees are deliberately cut in Arandu, Shishikoh and other forest areas by the timber mafia in connivance with the government departments concerned and sold in urban areas.

A letter issued written by the deputy commissioner of Chitral in June 2018 sought withdrawal of the government policy as it was causing irreparable destruction to the forest by helping the timber mafia to cutting green trees.

The letter mentions that over 1.5 million cubic feet illegally cut timber was lying in Arandu valley. Out of this timber, around 26,210 cft was lying at Kalkatak at that time awaiting transportation to the down districts while 20154 cft had been transported to Dargai.

Govt hands in glove with timber mafia in destroying Chitral's forestsThe policy caused havoc to the green forest and must be withdrawn immediately by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself, said Shahzada Siraj.

In simple terms, what is this ill-conceived policy of the KP government telling us? It is telling me that if I am caught with my stolen timber I can easily legalize it if:

  • I pay 60% of the easily- manipulated cost to forest owners (who are all illiterate, very poor and will be happy with even a couple of thousand rupees)
  • I pay 40% of this easily manipulated cost to the government of Pakistan through traditionally corrupt forest and other such government officials.

 

Because of this policy, piles and piles of illegally cut timber is already lying along riverbeds in Chitral ready to be “legalised” by their “owners” through the Forest Department.

The letter also shows how some past DCs tried to help us and how their successors succumbed to pressure by the timber mafia.

(Pictures by Shahzada Siraj Ulmulk).

 

10 Replies to “Govt hands in glove with timber mafia in destroying Chitral’s forests”

  1. Once again we fill our pages with unsubstantiated news and make a hue and cry about it. We are talking about Arandu, a neglected and forgotten part of Chitral District. The social indicators for the valley are dismal. How many Chitralis have visited the valley. A few have seen the small village called Arandu but none have seen the long Arandu Gole valley and the forests that surround it. Despite this we are all crying hell about the forests being cut down and Chitral being destroyed. The Chitralis should stop exploiting people and settling their personal disputes through the net. The forests of Chitral have been always exploited. In the nineteenth century when Robertson visited Chitral and the Nuristan valleys he found that the Kakahels of Nowshera were a respected people because they brought income by taking the timber down the river. If I am not wrong until the first Afghan war the timber from Chitral State regularly went down the Kunar river to Nowshera. In the sixties forests in Lowari, Ashret and Kalash vallesy were mercilessly cut by timber merchants from Peshawar and taken down. The Chitralis watched this keenly while labourors from Kashmir did the hard task of taking them down from the forests in winter standing in freezing waters to be transported later in summers over the Lowari. There were no Chitrali timber mafia in those days and Chitralis did not even be part of the transportation mafia. Nothing was paid to the people or the district. After 76 people in Dir rose up against this and forced Mr Bhutto and later the Zia regime to give the locals a share in the revenue generated from the sale. The royalty went to the right holders who were defined as people who were living in the forest areas and had land there. It was in the eighties that one Chitrali had the guts to enter the transportation business for timber. This made many people upset and a huge and cry for over throwing a group from Peshawar that use to benefit from it. Chitralis started entering the field in the nineties and gradually you saw more and more contractors. During the ANP gpvernment there was a whole sale rape of the forest and the provincial forest minister himself became part of this loot. The PTI government stopped this loot and made sure that no timber would be cut. They have stuck to it largely because of the commitment of Imran Khan to this cause. But his does not solve the other problem. Large tracts of forests had been cut in Kalash Valleys and Arandu during this period. This timber has been lying around for years and going waste. The government has been wise to have this timber removed from the forests. There is no point wasting it. It means some money for the government and some for the local people and some for the contractorsThe hue and cry seems to be that some Chitralis had the guts to go into this valley and transport the timber out and earn the transportation costs. I dont think this is illegal and all the timber going out is regulated and under government partronage. Instead of making empty noises I sugges the Chitralis do the following. Firstly they should visit the Arandu valley to find out how large is this valley and how much timber does it have and how miserable a life the people here lead?. They must then assess how much timber is there because of windfall. Thirdly they must assess if there has been any forest cut after the election of PTI government in KP five years ago. Instead of doing this they should not spent their energies on badly researched information and also resolve to settle their personal and inter family disputes in the confines of their families and not use other Chitralis through bad information to fight for them

  2. They are legal wood being taken out in broad daylight after completing legal formalities. if you want to check, it then change the policy of kp govt through assembly. In this case, the MPAs can take up the issue in assembly.

  3. Tan gulabi angrezian gani uncle Dr. Khalil ezatman royan sum baizatiar ghair khur kiagh hush no koyan. Haya akhbar o d hash derogatory remarks wala comments an publish no koreli.

  4. could anyone ask captain siraj to show his own wooden made hotel and its permit records he obtained timber legally?

  5. culprits are your shahzada brothers and you have posted knowing all the fects, how about curruption in Langlan’s School the public strongly believes you are part of it , few days back you were challenged to prove your self clean and unguilty , but your silence answered all the question raised by him .. the timbers clearly seen to belong to FDC and the contractor is Shahzada Parvez belongs to your own family. go ahead and dare to do some thing against him, why do show pictures to public if you have seen every thing with your own eyes did you asked the driver about the owner of the timber, if not why ?? you try to jump in every relevent and irrelevent matters in Chitral how come you did not stop the trucks and ask them few question,, or these are cut and paste from somewhere unknown,, lot of these timbers are still in ispalasht,, go ahead and take stay order from court we will support you ,, dont make people fool, how much forest have you destroyed while building your own hotel,, why did you not use Cement etc why every room and floors are made of wood instead of cement,, did you bring it from Australia or what ??

    1. Brother, its politics and some people know how to make fool of chitralis. Their friends and family members are actively involved in politics and actively. He knows very well but power and money. And also your MNA,MPA what are they doing and your district government what they did.its democracy, by the the smart,and for the fool and poor.

  6. Heavy vehicles even those in government use have been heard of carrying timber and furnitures to downtown cities finding any possible opportunity in trips. Be anyone, none cares for it. Some locals have become professionals as providers. When all are there then which one will stop them?

    1. the contractor is his own brother and the tim,ber belong to Forestr development Corporation , siraj was suppose to ask and about it and if he such a Chitrali can take stay order from court .. he knows very well about all these timber and well knows his brother contractors, just trying to make the public fool .. his own hotel is made of 75% of wood , why he did not considered cement for the same purpose the shahzada of Chitral are jelous of each other , it their history ,, if the contract was given to him he would have chpped to forest more then anyone else.

  7. KPK government must wake up and take strict action against the timber mafia or we lose what is left of Chitral.

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