Pahalgam: The loot of green gold is going unabated in Pahalgam in broad day light along with illegal constructions in Green belt of the resort.
Local residents alleged that some elements with the backing of influential politicians and bureaucrats not only steal the timbler from forests but are also raising illegal constructions in the green belt area as well as in the peripheries of Pahalgam.
“Timber smugglers without any threat or hesitation are working overtime to loot as much green gold as they can as nobody is checking or stopping them,” a group of local residents said.
“The timber smugglers in Pahalgam have axed large number of trees in a broad day light which is a big shame for concerned authorities and one fails to understand why forest department fails to act against such ill elements who are destroying this tourist attraction with both hands,” another resident said.
Acknowledging the problem, Ranger Wildlife, Pahalgam, Abdul Rashid told Kashmir Reader that such elements were more active during evening hours “when it is too dark and hard to catch them.”
“Secondly in the turbulent situation that valley is facing at present we are unable to perform our duties to that extent as it should have been,” Rashid said.
“The lack of staff also makes conditions favorable for such miscreants. We are making some policies to curb such people and also lodging FIRs against such people,” he said.
Local residents claim that large number of lush green trees have been axed by smugglers for use in illegal constructions in this green belt of Pahalgam where JK High court has put a blanket ban on constructions.
The smugglers use private vehicles to ferry illegal timber without any hindrances, they said, alleging that smugglers and the department seem to be hand in glove.