Take cognizance of loot of forest wealth in Ramnagar, says Harsh

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Describing the illegal transportation of 400 scants of Deodar Wood which was being smuggled in Forest Division Ramnagar recently and seized by the Forest Protection Force (FPF) as a tip of the ice berg, Harsh Dev Singh JKNPP Chairman and Former Minister has urged upon the Govt. to take cognizance of large scale loot and destruction of Forest Wealth in the said Division.
In a press statement, Harsh Dev Singh said that there were numerous instances of green feeling, excessive lopping of Deodar and Conifer Trees, illegal extraction of resin, ‘Guchhis’, ‘Marchella esculanta’ and other medicinal plants but the authorities concerned had turned a deaf ear to all complaints for vested interests. He deplored that Forest area and its resources were being damaged and vandalized by private people as well as other Govt. Deptts. in violation of Forest conservation Act with none to take cognizance. He said that despite huge claims of the Forest Deptt. to retrieve all the encroached Forest lands, the influential and politically connected people continued to hold the said lands with further encroachments being made by them in collusion with Forest Deptt. and other Govt. functionaries. He called for immediate eviction of all Forest lands encroached by political persons in various Forests areas and initiation of legal proceedings against them under law.
Alleging that a well knit mafia was operational in the Forest Deptt., Harsh Dev Singh pointed out that he was apprised during his field tours by the public that timber provided in various timber Depots on subsidized rates for the use of ration card holders was being misappropriated and sold in the market. He said that politician-timber mafia nexus in Majalta range, Dudu Basantgarh range and Ramnagar range stood fully exposed before the concerned officers who had expressed their helplessness in view of political patronage enjoyed by unscrupulous elements and also for vested interests. He regretted in particular the non initiation of action against a Forestor of Basantgarh area responsible for large scale destruction of Deodar Trees in view of the culprit having supplied deodar scants to a BJP MLA for construction of latter’s bunglow. Flaying the patronized destruction of Forest Wealth, Harsh Dev Singh pointed out that several ‘Chir’ Trees and conifers had dried up due to over exploitation. He said that reeling method of extraction of resin, as allowed by the Forest Deptt. provided that only one cup shall be fixed with a tree after reeling at one place.
He however lamented that the ‘Chir’ Trees were reeled at six to seven places with equal number of cups fixed in violation of the prescribed norms due to collusion of vested interests with Deptt functionaries. He said that such irregularity was being committed with irregularity in various other Forest Divisions also resulting in stunted growth and withering away of trees besides making them disease prone and fire prone.
Attributing the unwholesome changes in the climate and vagaries of weather to the ruthless destruction of Forest cover, Singh said that Forest mafia had to be eliminated if the future generations were to grow and survive.

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