Politicians, Bureaucrats Involved In Forest Land Grabbing, Smuggling

4 May 2015
Kashmir Life

Srinagar: In a bid to put lid over the grabbing of forest land and timber smuggling in Jammu and Kashmir, government Monday said that big names have so far come to fore who are involved in the plunder of the green gold. 'There are the names of revenue officials, several politicians, police and bureaucracy which are involved in the forest land grabbing in Jammu and Kashmir. We have so far retrieved more than 900 kanals of forest land and timber worth 300 crores,'Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment Bali Baghat told KNS. Asked about the reports of chopping down of trees in forests allegedly by armed forces in Kashmir valley, the minister said, 'If evidence against anyone violating the law will be found, action will be taken. Irrespective of status of background, government would bring to book the culprits if found involved. If we have the reports that the armed forces and para military is involved in illegal chopping of trees in forests, we will take action. I want to assure the people of the state that the government would not spare any, if involved.' 'We have set the target of retrieving 5000 hectares of forest land by March next year and that the officials of the forest department have already been directed to remain on the tenterhooks,' Bhagat told KNS, adding that action will be initiated against all those involved in grabbing the forest land and facilitating the timber smuggle. He added that in Jammu, the areas of Basoli, Katra, Kashtiwar and several others are dominated by the forest land grabbing incidents. 'The government has launched the helpline numbers both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir so that people can register their complaints and the government could act.' The minister claimed that so far the illicit timber worth Rs three to four crore has been recovered from the possession of the smugglers and in near future the drive will gain momentum.