In a brazen violation of the Supreme Court directions and the agreement with state government, Border Roads Organization (BRO) has reportedly uprooted number of forest trees in Northern Kashmir forests without any permission thus turning nearly one and a half kilometer famous Bungus Forest barren.
Sources in the forest department Monday told alocal news agency, KNS that the BRO had entered into an agreement with state government under government order no 527FST/2006 dated 17/10/2006 for construction of a Five kilometer stretch road leading to Kashtawar NilDori through the famous Bungus forests. However they alleged that the agency violated the SOS and cut down the trees illegally in the forest.
“As per the agreement BRO had to construct 5 km long road up to Kashtawar Nil Dori in Bungus for which forest department agreed to give away 8.80 hectares of forest land in compartment number 32”, sources told KNS.
They added that along the stretch, hundreds of lush green forest trees were raised to ground, however, they alleged that the Road construction organization did not stop where it had to as per the agreement, instead took more 17.6 hectares in its possession.
The agreement duly signed by the then Commissioner Secretary forests Najum Sadiq and deputy Secretary Forests Rana Batol, a copy of which lies with KNS, states that the work on the project had to be started in 2006. However sources told KNS, that the work was still unfinished even after the seven years.
Meanwhile the local Civil Society in Handwara has revealed that BRO has extended the construction to 6 and a half kilometers which is one and a half kilometer extra to the original agreement of 5 kilometers.
“BRO has uprooted 26 live deodar trees in violation of laws and agreement in the intervening night of 13th and 14 Nov. 2007”, sources in the forest department told KNS, adding that even an FIR was also lodged against the organization in this regard vide no 257/2007 in Handwara Police station, but according to sources it is now said that the sections 353 and 341 under which the FIR was actually lodged pertains to scuffle, not the falling down of forest trees illegally.
Local Civil Society has alleged that the forest department did not reveal the actual information in response to their RTI application and said the concerned department was trying to conceal the wrong doings of BRO.
“We have also filed a case against conservator forests North and Chief Conservator under 174 of RTI act for not providing the requisite information.” Civil Society members told KNS.
Meanwhile Minster for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf has taken a serious notice of the alleged violation of the agreement and forest laws by the concerned agency and has vowed to take a stern action.
“I will constitute an inquiry commission in this regard and an action would be taken if the allegations are proved during the course of enquiry.” Minster told KNS.