Srinagar, Jan 11 : Acting with an iron fist against forest smugglers and anti-social elements involved in green gold loot, the forest department of Jammu and Kashmir along with forest protection force and the J&K police, seized hundreds of vehicles and recovered thousands cubic feet timber (cft) timber in the year 2021, reveals official data.
According an annual data accessed by Kashmir News Service (KNS), the forest department has seized 388 vehicles carrying illicit timber across all its Kashmir forest divisions an also seized, 18912.27 Cfts timber in 2021.
Data reveals the department has seized 158 vehicles in South circle, 75 in Srinagar circle and 152 vehicles in North circle, while the department has also recovered 6045.45 Cfts illegal timber in South Circle, 3309.40 in Srinagar circle and 9557.42 Cfts in North Circle.
It reveals that the department has seized 3492 Cfts in the month of June itself, which was highest seizure in 2021, while it has also been found that during winters or Covid lockdown, axing of forest trees witnessed a steep rise.
Meanwhile, Conservator North circle and Joint Director forest protection force, Irfan Rasool Wani, while disagreeing with increase in timber smuggling during Covid lockdown or winters, he said that if the data of last 5 years is compared data, then there is not a significant upward trend.
“The department is dealing effectively with forest damages, while forest degradation is a consequence of socio-economic causes, so department is focusing on economic development of forest fringe villages and there are numerous government schemes which are available but its reach is poor especially in Tribal and forest fringe villages,” he said.
He also said that the department is trying to take these schemes at the doorstep of deserving communities in forest areas. “One Beat guard One Village” or popularly known as ‘Har Gaon Haryali Programme’ has been launched for this purpose only. Although, this Programme primarily focuses on improvement of Green cover in villages but it is going to serve as an important instrument of outreach and bonding between the department and the villages in future. Under this Programme all village Panchayats of the UT will be covered and one Beat Guard will be exclusively allotted for each village Panchayat.”
Irfan said that this is one side of the management and the other side is dealing with chronic timber smugglers with iron an fist. “The habitual smugglers have already been identified and they are being booked under stringent acts such as Public Safety Act, Indian Forest Act and Indian Penal Code depending on the nature of crimes committed by them. So the department is taking all possible measures to eradicate the menace of illegal forest activities in J&K.”
He said that overall they have registered positive increase in forest cover as per the latest report of Forest Survey of India and J&K has ranked 4th in the overall rankings of states and UTs in registering the growth of forest cover. (KNS)