SRINAGAR: In view of complaints being received by the District Magistrate Pulwama regarding the illegal green felling and plundering of forest vegetation cover in the Sangerwani forest, a field visit inside the forest was conducted by DM Pulwama on Wednesday.
During the field visit to Namblan and Anderwali forest blocks of Sangerwani forest belt massive felling of restricted species was found on the spot.
The team led by DM trekked almost a total of 30 Kms deep inside the forest area to get an insight of such illegal activities being carried out by forest mafia and timber smugglers.
For the first time, District Administration Pulwama also made use of a drone to have an aerial view of the damaged area and get the assessment done. It is worthwhile to mention that the District Administration has procured a hi-tech drone necessary to keep a check on Illegal Mining and other activities. It will also help in better land use planning and reconciliation of cadastral maps with revenue records.
The drone will also help the administration in future to identify large chunks of vacant land for kick-starting new developmental projects.
During the day-long trek, DM was astonished over the illegal felling of trees in the area with all impunity. Some of the locals also informed the DM that no forest official has ever visited the area to curb such activities.
The locals alleged that an enquiry needs to be conducted on how the transportation of logs is being allowed when there are so many forest checkpoints enroute.
The DM has been continuously getting complaints that forest staff deployed in the forest blocks and compartments being the locals of the area have managed to remain posted in the forest since decades and as such consequences are for everyone to see.
Apart from Namblam and Gaddar blocks, similar reckless cutting of trees have also been found in Kehrut block of Sangerwani.
The team of District Administration led by DM started the foot trek in the morning from Andarwali. Anderwali to Kandipatheri then crossing over Romushi Nala , Namblam , Gaddar and finally to Inderkhul which is a deep forest Area.
The NIC team members conducted the drone surveillance exercise which was monitored by DM.
During the trek, DM interacted with various Gujjar and Bakerwal Community members who were coming from Rajouri and were on their way to Kangan. The locals and the nomadic population of District residing in Dokas in the area and en route raised their grievances with the DM.
In view of the illegal felling of trees, the DM informed that the recommendations for departmental proceedings and a high-level enquiry against the DFO Shopian under whose jurisdiction the forest belt falls is being sent to the Government along with all recorded photographic and video graphic evidence of natural resources being plundered in the area.
He also stressed that if warranted, Public safety act should be slapped on forest mafia, timber smugglers and also on the forest employees if found involved in the illegal activity.
DM was informed forest smugglers were also trying to take undue advantage of lockdown amidst pandemic as the whole administrative machinery has been focusing in the containment of COVID-19.