Bandipora, Oct 12 [VN]: Amid pandemic this north Kashmir district is losing much of its green cover to the timber mafia with government officials pleading helplessness in the absence of adequate manpower to stop the carnage.
In Bandipora district, smugglers do not feel any hesitation in cutting the trees. Instead, they survey the forest and cut the choicest trees in the forest. The deforestation caused due to the nexus between timber smugglers and forest officials has caused a serious threat to the forest in the district.
Eye witnesses told that smugglers allegedly enjoying the patronage of the forest officials in Bandipora are busy in looting the green gold with authorities acting as mute spectator in this regard. They said that Bandipora is witnessing ruthless deforestation as timber mafias are active in cutting prized Kail trees in the forests. They alleged that department has all the information but they so far failed to take action against the culprits and giving them free hand to earn illegal money, adding in compartment 110 of Arin Dardpora, employees of the forest department are favoring them and the green gold of the area is facing axe. To cross check the locals allegations, an on spot assessment by this reporter recently found that an unabated loot of forest produce is going on in Arin, Sumlar, Kudara, Dardpora areas the largest forest belt of Bandipora. Smugglers cut trees during night and in the broad day light, they saw the trees and send them to nearby villages. Reliable sources said no action is being taken against the persons involved in the smuggling of timber by Forest Department.
“Despite tall claims of the Government to take strict action against the forest encroachers and timber smugglers, the officials of the Forest Department don’t pay any heed to the ongoing timber smuggling ” they said.
"Due to the ongoing pandemic, the forest guards aren’t guarding forests and the smugglers are continuing unabated loot of the forests" they added. Illegal timber from Kudara forests in close to the Sumlar belt is going unabated.
Officials on duty of said belt have also reports of timber smuggling in the said forest area falling under their jurisdiction but they are turning deaf ears.
Despite repeated attempts Divisional Forest Officer Bandipora could not be contacted for comments![VN].