June 2004 News

Hizb diktat: Save Doda forests

22 June 2004
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Srinagar: Militants in Jammu and Kashmir have become the unpaid guards of the forests in Kashmir. The shift in their role from timber smugglers to preservers of forests has come to the fore with the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen calling for the protection of forests in the upper reaches of Kishtwar, Marwah and Dacchan in Doda district. The outfit has issued a note to forest officers, asking them not to go in for extraction of forests (legal felling of trees) in Doda district. The extraction is undertaken by the State Forest Corporation (SFC). Forest minister Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Sofi acknowledged that the SFC could not carry out the extraction in some areas of Doda district. He told the Hindustan Times that he had also received reports that militants were working for the preservation of forests and had been urging people not to allow felling of trees. Sofi said the state had 20,000 sq km of forest-covered area, much of it in the Chenab basin. 'I cannot tell you how much cover has been lost during the past 15 years in terms of square kilometres, but there’s been a huge loss,' he said. Sources said militants had been plundering forests for pecuniary gains and to establish their rule. They still do that in some areas. So do security forces. There have been instances where their trucks were seized while carrying timber unauthorisedly.  


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