CHITRAL: District Judge Lower Chitral Ms Phool Bibi recently upheld a civil court’s ruling in PTI leader Abdul Latif’s appeal against the forest department for fining him over Rs40 million in connection with cutting of green trees in the Kalash valley in 2013.
In the detailed judgement, the district judge observed that there were no loopholes in the civil court ruling dated March 19, 2019.
Court orders available with ChitralToday showed that according to the records and an agreement between the KP forest department and the FDC, the amount of fine had been reduced from the original 41,343,240 rupees to 6,890,540 rupees. This amount was to be paid in 90 days and action was also to be taken against government officials involved in the case.
Moreover, the illegally cut trees, 18,754 square feet, were to be brought under record and transported to the timber depot for sale. The proceeds from the sale and the fine imposed on the responsible persons were to be paid to the forest department, the court orders stated.
Besides, the court also warned the FDC officials to remain careful in the future.
It may be recalled that PTI Chitral leader Abdul Latif was fined more than Rs40 million for allegedly cutting green trees in the Kalash valley in 2013.
A letter issued by the deputy forest manager Chitral on August 8, 2013, stated: “A contract for harvesting 1,185 dry/standing and windfall trees measuring 90,399 cubic feet (cft) marked in the Achulgah compartment No 9 & 10 was awarded to Mr. Abdul Latif, son of Gul Sambar Khan, a resident of Oweer Nichagh, Tehsil Mastuj, district Chitral, under an agreement signed by him with the FDC dated 16-01-2010.”
Accordingly, the letter added, “the work order was issued to Mr Abdul Latif for harvesting the marked trees vide Deputy Forest Manager Chitral’s letter No. 1680 dated 15-6-2010 after fulfillment of the codal formalities.” The work contractor started harvesting operations in the lot during the month of May, 2010, it said.
“On 9-06-2010, a committee consisting of officers of the Forest Development and FDC inspected FDC Lot No. 637/M (Achulgah compartment No. 9 &10) along with Mr. Noor Shahideen, the then chairman of the joint forest management committee (JFMC), Achulgah forest.”
Accordingly, a show-cause notice was issued to the work contractor vide DFM Chitral letter No. 2637 dated 24-06-2013, followed by a reminder (No. 13 dated 1-7-2013).
The reply from the work contractor was examined and consequently found unsatisfactory.
“Therefore, the work contractor was held liable to punitive action under clause 22(c) of the agreement executed by him with FDC.”
It added: “Thus by invoking clause-22(c) of the agreement, the penalty of Rs.41343240/- imposed by the conservator of Forest Malakand (west) forest circle at Timergara vide his office order No.07 dated 31-7-2013 is hereby transferred to/imposed on Mr. Abdul Latif S/O Gul Smabar Khan R/O Oweer Nichagh, Tehsil Mastuj, District Chitral (work contractor for FDC Lot No. 637/M).” The above penalty is recoverable from work bills, security deposits or as arrears of land revenue of the said work contractor as per provision of the agreement executed by him with FDC, the document added.
However, when ChitralToday contacted Mr Abdul Latif at that time, he said he had sublet the contract to Haji Muhammad Khan. He said the inspection report was prepared through the JFMC head Noor Shahideen who had some grudge with Haji Muhammad Khan and tried to settle an old score with him.
Talking to ChitralToday, Haji Muhammad Khan said after a kidnapping and murder incident in the forest area, the harvesting of wood there was stopped during which some people from the Kalash valley cut the green trees and later tried him to implicate him in the case.