PART-II: Green Gold in danger; JK Govt in deep slumber!

Survival of mankind hinges on forest protection

Koi Toh Jagaoo---Jungle Ko Bachaoo

Ajmer Alam Wani

JAMMU, AUG 18: The J&K government may have initiated viable steps (on papers only and in meetings) to eradicate menace of timber smuggling and also for preservation of environment in the State but the ground reality is far away and the slogans and claims of the concerned Minister and officials seems hollow.

No doubt in a meeting held at Srinagar recently, Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment, Mian Altaf Ahmad had said that the government will do everything possible to prevent forest fires in future and safeguard the forest wealth as the survival of mankind hinges on its protection. But in reality, the Green Gold of the state at present is under severe threat and the government seems least interested in saving and protecting it.

Let us start with the condition of green forests and negligigence of forest officials in Doda district. To begin with our focus today will be on Compartment No-1 in Chiralla belt of villages which falls in Bhaderwah constituency. Young green trees have been shortened to ground and the land has been converted into agriculture land by the land encroachers’ mafia which is operative since decades. Though the land encroachers’ mafia operative in the area is not so powerful but the fact is that forest officials deputed in the area are incompetent and do not make an effort to visit the area thus leave the forest at the mercy of enemies of Green Gold who enjoy cutting green trees at their tender age.

It is not so that the lower rung forest officials do not visit the area. They visit, but seldom and collect the money from Green Gold enemies for the distraction of forests wealth and inform their officers that everything is going in right direction all over without mentioning a bit about the encroachments.

During the last several years the forest land encroachments and cutting of trees has gone rampage but unfortunately no one is there to check it. The state government and the Minister concerned make tall claims before the media and in meetings assuring to do wonders but if one visits the area and have a glance of the condition of forest area, it becomes clear that the JK Govt, Forest Minister and the officials concerned at the higher level are in deep slumber which is not only zeroing our forests but also threatening the very existence of wildlife.

As the wildlife has been disturbed due to the forest cutting, the wild animals are posing great threat to the inhabitation near to forests as their stay places get disturbed or damaged.

Sources said that the land encroachers since decades are working on a systematic strategy.

They either put the forest under fire or cut out the skin around trunk of the trees which results in drying the tree. Later these partially dried up trees are cut down and used for domestic fuel and the land is cleared of trunks and left out tree roots. Than after the land is converted into agriculture land. This all goes in a well organized manner and the land encroachers have no fear in doing so as they know no one is going to visit the area to check them.

Ironically forest officials deputed in the areas who were directed by the higher authorities on few occasions, that too, after receiving some strong complaints and stand against these land encroachments are not in a position to identify their departmental land (Forest Land), which is not only unfortunate but a matter of great concern.

The officials should have been updated with their records but such attitude and working style of the officials speaks otherwise and indicates that forest land has no caretakers.

This speaks volumes about the dedication and punctuality of forest officials and justifies the claims of Govt, if not in the right direction but in the contradiction!

It has been since decades the forest land has not been demarcated by the department yet the Ministers claim of protecting and preserving the Green Gold. How is it possible? If the officials of a department are so much ignorant about the area they are supposed to protect, than how comes it possible, that the initiatives of the government claiming to eradicate menace of timber smuggling and preserving environment would guarantee results.

The Forest Minister has to wake-up to the situation and make the first move at earliest ensuring speedy results. The need of the hour is to go for fresh demarcation of the Forest Land area and set Forest Protection Posts in such areas so the forest land could be evacuated from the encroachers and further encroachments could be checked. Otherwise the day is not far behind when the entire forest area would be converted into a desert. No doubt such move by encroachers will also threaten their own survival.

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