#Day18: Vested Interest Elements Busy In Looting Green Gold, Raising Illegal Constructions

   

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SRINAGAR

Taking undue advantage of on-going uprising, timber smugglers have been working overtime to loot as much of green gold as they could.

Reliable sources told news agency CNS that Jungle smugglers have been looting the green gold in broad day light across Valley particularly in North Kashmir while miscreants from Srinagar city have also been taking the advantage of the current situation and are reportedly busy in raising illegal structures in the green belt area as well as in the peripheries of world famed Dal Lake.

A top forest official wishing not be named said that unabated loot is going on in lush forests in the Kothar range, Shopian-Pulwama, Doodganaga range, Rithan range, Beerwah range, Googaldhara area in Tangmarg, Rafiabad, Doabgah range and Kandi range of Baramulla district.

“We are unable to mobilize our work force to put a check on these smugglers. We found ourselves helpless,” the official said adding that the system has completely fallen apart.

Sources said that forest smugglers have done extensive damage to the Kashmir forests while illegal felling of trees has been going on continuously.

“Forests are an open and not a locked treasure; so one can expect illegal felling anywhere and at any time, but in the current unrest even the official monitoring mechanism has fallen apart which has only contributed to the increased illegal activity,” the official added.

Locals from Handwara however alleged that smugglers are using their private vehicles to ferry illegal timber and there is nobody to stop them.

They said that smugglers and the department employees are hand in glove who share the booty equally.

Sources added that large number of Chinar and walnut trees have been axed by vested interested people.

Some people are busy with illegal constructions inside Dal Lake and at tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam which are otherwise prohibited under law.

“Our Karewa’s are being raised to ground by heavy duty “Bull Dozers” during the dead of night. Construction material is being ferried in cable car ‘Gandola’ to Kong Doori Gulmarg thus violating Environmental Protection Act and orders of the J&K High Court.”

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