Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PART-III: Armed protectors turn mute spectators to felling of green forests


Ajmer Alam Wani

JAMMU, AUG 19: Despites spending crores of rupees to create an armed force in the state under the name Forest Protection Force (FPF) with a sole motive to protect the forest wealth yet the Green Gold cover has been declining at an alarming pace in the higher reaches of erstwhile district Doda. The reasons is the field staff and armed protectors (FPF) both supposed to protect the green beauty and wealth of the Doda district are mute spectator to the felling of green forests as well as timber smuggling and do not visit the higher reaches thus have turned mute spectators to the felling to green gold and are negligent towards their duties.

Reports said that the illegal deforestation in the dense green patch of district Doda is Jammu and Kashmir, is going on at an alarming pace as the Forest Protection Force is not active enough in the higher reaches which is unconnected and have no road connectivity.

FPF men have arms, power, mission and assigned task to protect the forest felling and smuggling of Green Gold, yet, the entire system seems defunct and the goals, which were set to safeguard our future are being nowhere in focus. However, our leaders had been claiming of doing wonders but on ground, these claims look only political in nature instead of forest/environment friendly.

With the deforestation going on rampage in the higher reaches of Bhaderwah Forest range many eyebrows are being raised about the working of Forest Protection Force (FPF) in the entire erstwhile Doda district. Another reason for the deforestation in the higher reaches of Bhaderwah Forest range is that these areas lack FPF posts so the trees are being cut down fearlessly. Due to the lack of healthy planning and opening the FPF posts in the required areas Green Gold is vanishing fast.

Though the Village Forest Committees (VFC) had been formed by the Forest Department but these members instead working for protection of green trees are working in contrary and offering their help to encroachers for smoothly carrying operation of forest land encroachments.

Reports said that in Compartments No 34, 35 and 42 which fall in Siraj Forest range and Compartment No- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Chiralla Forest Range of Bhaderwah Forest Division thousands of kanals of forest land have already been encroached upon at many places by the forest land grabbers.

Relevant to mention here that in Chiralla Forest Range there is no office of the department within the area so the officials concerned are seldom available to check the green forest felling and encroachments. The officials who are supposed to perform their duties in the Chiralla area which remains dominated by the anti forest elements, could be easily traced in Bhaderwah instead of being in Chiralla Forest range, thus one can imagine how efficiently the forests wealth would have been protected in the area.

Moreover thousands of kanals of forest land is being encroached year after year, which is used to raise crops at many compartments.

Reports added that large scale green felling and encroachment of forest land have been done in some of the compartments of Marmat range of Forest Division Batote.

Worth mentioning here that Ex-Union Water Resources Minister, Prof. Saif-ud-Din Soz in the recent past while addressing a press conference had said that the heavy deforestation was responsible for land slides and sliding of hills in the Doda region along Baglihar Dam.

He had added that the landslides were occurring due to extensive deforestation which makes earth loose its ground and not because of Baglihar dam, Prof. Soz had said.

Relevant to mention here that due to landslides (mainly due to deforestation) early this year people of Doda and Kishtwar districts had remained cut off from rest of the world after a massive landside occurred near Assar, 35 km from the dam.

(FOR PART-1 click :

FOR PART-II click :