‘Stumps put on fire to make trees hollow’
Srinagar: Locals from North Kashmir’s Baramulla district have alleged that some vested interest elements in connivance with the Forest officials have been looting the green gold without any hindrance.
In absence of any checking and surveillance, the consciousless smugglers have been adopting a simple method to destroy the forest wealth in different forest ranges of Baramulla district, locals told news agency CNS.
“In order to make trees hollow, they set their stumps on fire and then cut them easily. If you visit any part of Kamraj Forest Division in North Kashmir, particularly Nagin forest in Baramulla, you will find how stumps of trees have been put on fire,” they said.
“I was shocked to see a tree stump being put on fire in presence of two Security Guards at Nagin forest. They did nothing and watched from a distance. A big mafia is active in the forest loot and they enjoy the patronage of higher ups,” said a local from Baramulla.
According to locals, scores of trees at Kandi Forest Range in Sopore have been ripped apart. “Scores of trees at Kandi forest range in Zainageer and its adjoining villages including Mandji, Takia Kalan, Batago, Shiva, Muqam have been looted. Such a loot on massive scale is impossible without the active support of men at the helm of affairs,” they said.
Chief Conservator Forests Manzoor Ahmed Darzi said that action will be taken if reports of green gold loot prove correct.
Incharge Kandi Forest Range, Sheikh Muhammad Ayoub lamented that not a single person has been arrested by police so far involved in timber smuggling. “We have registered formal cases against 25 smugglers and recommended their detention under Public Safety Act, but all are roaming free. At Rampur and Rajpur ranges, my team once came under heavy attack. The inaction on part of police has emboldened these smugglers,” he said but added that Kandi Forest Range is protected and smugglers are not allowed to take any undue advantages. (CNS)