Kupwara, Mar 05: Multi Thousand crores were approved, with the utilization of 14 hectares of forest land for which scores of green trees were chopped off to build Handwara-Bangus Road, despite having an alternative road had raised question on Roads and Buildings Department and forest advisory committee 2017 for proposing and allowing road construction via forests.
Now Forest Department has not handed over 55,000 square feet timber to State Forest Corporation even after the road from Handwara to Bangus Valley here in North Kashmir’s Kupwara has been completed.
Insiders said that the more than 1000 mighty trees that were marked and chopped, when Roads and Buildings Department were constructing 30 kilometer long road from Handwaraa to Bangus have gone missing in the Forest Department and it is the main reason the department is using dilly dally tactics to handover the timber extracted from the felling trees to State Forest Corporation Department.
Insiders told Kashmir News Trust that government went ahead to construct motorable road from Handwara to Bangus Valley even when experts had dubbed the move as environmental disaster’ The development experts had said the government’s idea of having a road to Bangus Valley “is nothing less than an environmental disaster.”
R&B undertook the project and constructed the road. During the construction of road through forest areas, over 1000 mighty trees were chopped down that came between the road. The timber extracted from the chopped down trees should have been in the possession of Forest Department, but ironically, that timber is missing while SFC is demanding the possession in vain from past some months.
Sources said that now Forest Department in order to hand over the 55,000 squar feet timber to SFC has started ‘illegal marking’ of trees yet again. “These trees will be chopped down now and handed over to State Forest Corporation,” said an insider wishing not to be named.
There are at least 26 forest compartments in between Handwara and Bangus Valley. Sources said that illegal marking has been done mostly in compartment number 5 and 6. “When locals complained of illegal marking, a team from forest department made a cosmetic visit and rejected those complaints. Actually that team led by Assistant Director Enforcement didn’t visit the actual location.”
“We have already lost thousands of trees to road widening in the area and if the new felling of trees through illegal marking is carried on, it will have serious consequences on the ecology and would vandalize the meadow,” said a local to KNT adding that forest department should be asked where it had kept those 1000 mighty trees that were chopped down during the construction of the road.
When contacted, Divisional Forest Officer Abdul Hamid said that they had sent a team led by Assistant Director Enforcement but they don’t found any illegal marking of trees anywhere. He said after sometime, the timber in question will be handed over to State Forest Corporation.