Huge Volume of ‘Undisposed’ Forest Offences Mocks at Forest Dept Bosses
Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil
Srinagar: Government’s purported measures to eradicate the menace of timber smuggling
notwithstanding, unfortunate reality remain that these measures remain confined to official files and meeting alone and are nowhere visible on the ground.
The ‘Digest of Forest Statistics 2009’, an official document reveals that in 2008-09, the inordinate undisposed forest offence cases had reached to 1,50,659 and every year the cases are added.
This huge volume of unresolved cases speaks volumes about the functioning of the Forest department as well as the police and judicial system besides justifying the claims of the government, but in contradiction!
Highly placed sources in the Forest department told ‘Kashmir Images’ that the authorities have preferred an eerie silence over the matter and no measurers are actually being taken to investigate the losses caused to the forests.
On an average, each forest offence case that has been or is being registered concerns 2-3 illicitly felled trees by an “organized smuggler mafia”. By this token, the figures related to unresolved forest offences reveal that the “fate of around 300,000 illicitly felled trees has been kept in a sealed cover by the concerned authorities.”
“It speaks of the intentions of the forest officials which is nothing but a stealthy effort to cover up the issue allowing the culprits free space to further their ends and designs,” said a retired Forest official.
According to this expert, the illicit felled trees can not only address the demand of ‘Khatemband’ (Kashmiri style wooden ceiling) industry but at the same time generate huge revenue for the department.
Asked how? The expert replies: “An illicitly felled tree leaves behind a neglected stump (lower portion of a tree) which can yield timber up to 5 cfts. When marked and extracted, only a percentage of available stumps in our plundered forests too could easily make available over 800,000 cfts of timber that can address to the demand of ‘Khatemband’ industry which survives on 3000 cfts of supply as of now. It could be a huge source of revenue for the department and the government which otherwise has been left to rot in the forests.”
The Forest department needs to wake up from the slumber and stop making tall claims on protection front, he opines, adding that the policies of the department to cater to the public and departmental objectives are currently running on very primitive lines. The department lacks initiative, he concludes.