Asif Iqbal Naik
National Conference Member Legislative Council Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri Wednesday staged a walkout from the Legislative Council after the Chairman prevented him to raise more supplementary questions with regard to alleged embezzlement in distribution of timber Lidder forest Division Bijbehara.
Dr Veeri alleged that there is a “nexus” of timber mafia and forest officials who were involved in Rs 6.39 Crore worth timber embezzlement meant for the distribution of the poor people.
In reply to CQ No. 363, Forest Minister Chowdhary Lal Singh informed the Upper house that 5687 number of applications have been received in Bijbehara and Mattan ranges during 2015-16, besides 5442 number of sanctions have been issued by DFO Lidder, who is sanctioning authority and added that 2400 number of previous sanctions have been cancelled by the concern DFO.
As Lal Singh tried to convince NC legislator, Dr Veeri demanded constituting of House Committee to probe the “mass sale of illegal timber” in Lidder Forest Division.
“It is scandal… timber Mafia is working in the area,” said Dr Veeri said adding that the reply submitted to him is “not satisfactory” as the information sought by him is incomplete.
He said that out of 5442 sanctioned cases, but he has “received details of only 500 cases while remaining 5000 sanctioned forms are missing and forest department has failed to provide the same to him”.
In a tit for tat situation, Forest Minister assured him that all the relevant details sought by him will be given to him. “Now onwards, people will not have to suffer on account of timber sanction and same will be available on the bases of first come first basis,” Lal Singh said.
To this, NC Legislator asked the minister as how come the DFO cancel the previous sanctions and instead provide timber to new sanctioned persons. “The action of the department itself indicates the fraud committed by the officials of the forest department,” Dr Veeri said. “Instead of providing me the copies of the Form-16, the department has given me copies of birth certificates.”
Later, talking to Kashmir Life, NC Legislator said that the “scandal” highlighted by him “was the tip of iceberg”.
“Majority of the forest area was looted due to nexus of the forest officials and forest mafia,” he alleged and demanded a high level probe to look into the allegations of Rs 6.39 Cr timber scandal in Lidder Forest Division.