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Forest owners demand lifting of ban on timber transportation

By Our Correspondent 2015-08-04
TIMERGARA: The forest owners and members of the now defunct joint forest management committees of Upper Dir and Chitral districts have demanded lif ting ban on timber transportation to the market.

Talking to Dawn here on Monday, Maj (r) Ahmad Saeed, Sher Mohammad, Umar Gul and Mohammad Zaib feared that the windfall and cut timber worth billions of rupees could be washed away by floods if not transported to the market.

They said imposition of ban on commercial timber harvesting and its transportation in 1993 had adversely affected the income of the government and forest owners.

They said the ban was leading to smuggling by timber mafia to get huge profits.

They said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had formed a committee comprising NAB, anti-corruption department and district administration officials to look into the windfall and cut wood in Dir, Chitral, Hazara and Swat, andensure its transportation to the market, but the matter was deliberately delayed by the bureaucracy in the forest department.

Forest owners said they frequently visited Peshawar and Banigala in Islamabad during last year to persuade PTI chief Imran Khan and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to order timber transportation to market.

Afterwards, they said the government formed a committee, whose recommendations about timber shipment, they added, had yet to be implemented.

They said Hash noods in July 2010 had washed away timber worth of millions of rupees and more timber was at stake if the government didn`t take corrective measures.

Sources in the Forest Development Corporation told Dawn that about 3.5 million square feet timber had been lying in different parts of Malakand and Hazara division for years.

Timber Association Chakdara president Mohammad Yar said the ban on timber harvesting and its movement had increased illegal forest cutting.

Divisional forest officer, DirKohistan, Mohammad Farooq said the committee comprising NAB, anti corruption and district government officials would 1001< into the windfall wood in depots and forests and then allow its transportation to market.

PESCO OFFICE OPENED: Jamaat-i-Islami MNA Sahibzada Yaqub Khan on Monday inaugurated Pesco sub-divisional office at Kumbar Maidan.

Speaking at a function on the occasion, he said Rs450 million had been approved for supply of gas to Maidan.

He said the people of Maidan had to travel to Timergara for even correction in their bills. `Now 80 per cent of their problems will be resolved at their doorsteps,` the JI lawmaker said.

Mr Yaqub also inaugurated the construction of Balambat-Kalpani road at a cost of Rs180 million.

On the occasion, district development advisory committee chairman Saeed Gul said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government planned to start work on development projects next month, particularly in education and health sectors.