Sopore: Unabated timber smuggling in the forests of Rampur and Rajpur in Bandipora district has taken a heavy toll on the green gold of the area, with the authorities allegedly looking as mute spectators.
The forests have been left unchecked by the government that has given a free run to the smugglers, the locals complained.
Located around 14 kilometres away from the main town of Sopore & comes under the Sopore police jurisdiction & the forest department of Sopore, Rampur and Rajpur used to be covered with dense green forests till a few years back but over time smugglers and some unscrupulous local elements have ravaged the area.
“The loot of our forest cover is going on in broad daylight and the forest department is doing nothing to stop this loot. Possibly without the league of forest department employee’s loot of green gold is not possible,” Mohammad Razzaq, a resident told this reporter. “We see some smugglers carrying axes and others going into forested areas in evenings, trying to destroy what nature has bestowed us with – abundant forest cover,” he added.
Owing to its hilly terrain and lush vegetation, the place has a good potential for tourism but the wide-scale uprooting of trees doesn’t augur well for the ecology or development of the area. “Not only they (forest-looters) cut down the trees but burn the remaining part of the stem; contributing to the pollution, had another resident, Mushtaq Ahmed noted. If the authorities will not take immediate action, the time is not far that the remaining greenery of Rampur-Rajpur will be vandalized in the years to come.
A few locals alleged that authorities deliberately ignore this wanton destruction of environment because they want to see the area freed up for possible construction of hotels and restaurants in future. When contacted the conservative north circle, Irfan Rasool agreed that a huge damage has been done to Rampur and Rajpur forests due to illegal deforestation and local timber mafia’s.
“To tackle this situation we have taken few new measures which will soon prove positive. First we have changed the whole staff of that area with young & energetic employees. Second the locals who are involved in timber mafia are poor and have no means other than this to earn their livelihood, so to address this socio economic crises which leads locals to continue timber smuggling, we have identified the timber smugglers and have made profiles of them and according to their profiles they will be trained in a particular skills with the help of some NGO’s and we will help them in getting job, these measures will help us to put full stop on timber mafia mayhem very soon,” he said.
According to the in charge Warpora police post, Imtiyaz Ahmad said that there are already more than 75 FIR’s registered against the timber smugglers but it’s the prime duty of forest protection guards to safeguard the forests in their area, we can only assist in this work.
However, SSP of the Sopore police, Javid Iqbal told Kashmir Reader that he has joined recently.
“I don’t have much knowledge about that area but I will talk to the area in charge and we will see how can an assist to stop timber smuggling in the area.”