Early Times Newspaper Jammu
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Open loot of Green Gold in Keshwan forests of Doda
Courtesy: Alleged nexus between forest officials, smugglers
Asif Iqbal Naik

Early Times Report

Kishtwar, Apr 14: After Dool and Bunjwah areas of Kishtwar, open loot of green gold has also been witnessed in the Keshwan range of Doda forest division where several young trees of Deodar are alleged to have been felled.
The trees were felled mostly in compartment Nos 10, 11, 23, 24 and 25, causing damage to the environment and the state exchequer.
Locals alleged that timber smugglers had been felling trees with the active support of some forest officials in the area and supplying them to some influential persons in and around Kishtwar town.
"After cutting green trees, the smugglers put the tree trunks on fire, polluting the atmosphere and posing a threat to forests which are already faced with a drought like situation this year due to less or no snowfall in the area during the last one year. People have criticised Forest Protection Force for its failure in taking action and reporting the matter to higher authorities," they said.
"You can see forest fires at many places in vicinity of Kishtwar town and its adjoining areas throughout the year. This is the handiwork of timber smugglers," locals alleged, saying though they had brought the matter to the notice of higher authorities, no action was taken.
They alleged that after they visited Keshwan forest areas, especially compartment No 2, 3 & 4, several Deodar tress were found lying on ground in panchayat Keshwan B and its adjoining areas, particularly in compartment Nos 10, 11, 23, 24 & 25.
They alleged that the Doda DFO also did not initiate any action even as the matter had been brought to his notice by them.
Kishtwar is known for its green gold due to the presence of thick forest covers in areas like Marwah, Dachhan, Nagsini, Paddar, Bhunzwah, Kuntwara, Chatroo, Poochal, Pootinag, Kalamsatar, Thrakrie and Keshwan.
For their preservation, the government has set up forest offices in Kishtwar and Marwah divisions and created two SFC divisions -- SFC West and SFC East. The job of Department of Social Forestry and FPF is also to protect forests.
Despite a Supreme Court ban on extraction of timer, the alleged nexus between some forest officials and smugglers continues to thrive in the district. On one hand, many people of Kishtwar were waiting for the sanction of timber as their applications were pending for several months, on the other, influential persons continued to get the supply of illegally felled timber, sources alleged.
Not only in Keshwan, but also in areas like Putinag, Thakrie, Kalamsatar, Poochal and Trigham the alleged illegal felling was in progress, sources alleged.
Another threat to the forests in Kishtwar district is the illegal extraction of firewood from adjacent forests. "As a part of nexus, ponywalas enter forests and cut green trees. They then keep it inside the forest for drying and when it dries, the ponywalas supply it to brick kiln owners, bakery shops and some influential people," people alleged.
Earlier, it were militants who destroyed timber in the erstwhile Doda district forests, now it were some forest officials and timber smugglers who were destroying it, they alleged.
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