Corruption glaring in Forest Department; Ministry ignorant?
JAMMU: A poor man’s death in forest on the mid day of July 12 (in between 12 noon to 1 pm) seems will remain a mystery only as the field Forest Officials have submitted a report to the their office that the man was alone and got killed after he comes under the felling tree. Sources said that the forest officials have showed in their report that the man was alone while felling the tree and came under the tree.
The picture of the tree shows that it was grounded using ‘Hand Saw’ which is pulled back and forth by two men. So the ground reality falsifies the report of forest department. The reason behind could be best known to them who filed the report. The other thing which indicates there were more men in the area is seizure of 9 trees from the same area which were fell down the same day. Sources informed that Forest Protection Force (FPF) men have seized 9 trees of Far locally known as (Sal) which are decreasing fast in number. If the forest officials have submitted the report, they should explain and tell the grounds, which indicate that he was single man and they should also explain how nine trees were grounded in the area on same day which were later seized by the FPF men.
The most unfortunate and shocking thing the real thing will never come out, as the forest officials have filed such a field report which will never bring reality out. The corrupt officials for just few thousands rupees to protect someone have made the death just a mystery, which more seems as per the circumstance a murder.
Forest Department, the department of Jammu and Kashmir Govt at present under able command and rule of Forest Minister Mian Altaf, has been assigned to take care of forest wealth, but unfortunately the officials are doing contrary resulting is fast ruining of this gift of nature on which the entire life is dependent.
This anti forest nexus has already disturbed the wildlife and brought the life of villagers in danger, by increasing man-animal conflict on which ministry itself have been expressing concerns from time to time.
Earlier, it was forest smugglers doing maximum harm to this gift of nature, now the forest officials themselves are taking the lead in this, and getting the young green trees grounded just for some money notes.
During in-depth investigations, this journalist, (who has been highlighting the issues related to forest and nature since he started his career as a reporter in 2001), found that the corruption is Forest Department has increased many fold and the forest officials are focusing on money only. They are nurturing the anti nature and anti forest activities and for that they have developed a well organized nexus, which under a well designed conspiracy have been misleading the higher-ups manually (on papers) otherwise verbally all seems swimming in the same pond.
During investigation, this reporter came to know that, anyone who wish to fell a tree is granted proper permission after charging the amount of Rs 1088 officially (this is done only to keep records ok) and after obtaining the written permission from the department and receipt of the amount paid, which is given for felling only dry tree of Quail (Pine), the original execution tell a contradictory story in most of the cases, something different from the real execution. People fell down the green Deodar trees in conveyance with the forest officials as for that some rates have been fixed by the officials at different levels in hierarchy (unofficially) which amounts to bribe for permission. The real amount is charged mostly at two levels, which most of the people know. One is by Forest Guard for not reporting the actual felling and the other by Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) for granting permission. Sources said that a Forest Guard, Ghulam Nabi charges Rs 5000 for not reporting the real executing. While the DFO, Manzoor Ahmed Gadoo charges Rs 10, 000 and above, for granting permission. Sometimes, the amount goes up if more trees are grounded.
Sources said that Conservator Forests, Chenab Circle, M.M Gupta is stated to remain most of the time either outstation or in office only while when it comes to field visits, it hardly digests him.
This illegal business by the forest enemies and the forest officials is in practice openly in Forest Division Bhaderwah but one fails to understand what forces higher authorities and people in Ministry and Govt to remain silent on this? Are they involved and directed the field staff to collect the revenue for them? Are they forced to remain silent under some political pressure? Or they want the forests get destroyed fast? This all could be or cannot be but what I observed is something different and applicable too.
LET ME EXPLAIN HERE:
What I observed the reason behind government helplessness in every department is people is Govt, bureaucracy believe more on papers only than that of the reality and ground position. Whenever such case is highlighted, and if the public, activists and media pressure is more a probe is initiated. The probe as usual goes through records of the same corrupt department who does the wrong. And people there are so perfect in keeping all the records ok, so how comes any action against them.
The government has to come-up with a long term solution, if it is sincere about the protection of forests,. Government must act in practical, instead of wasting the time of reading the papers prepared by the corrupt officials.
· First the action, than inquiry procedure should be adopted not the first inquiry and than action.
· Officials should be made accountable and the so they visits the fields and do the job for what they were recruited, promoted, given facilities and given handsome salaries.
· Government should form a Special Task Force (STF) of honest and strict people (excluding those who are in government services and politically affiliated) to get the reality out during probes in every department.
· Open up small check posts of these (STFs) after every 5 kilometers so the proper checks are done on every department for maximum results.
· The Government has to, and must show change in dealing corrupt officers, otherwise only making files against these officers is just wastage of time and befooling masses.
(My Mission continues)