close
Thursday May 23, 2024

Imran declares war against timber mafia

MANSEHRA: Declaring war against the timber mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said here Friday that his party wanted to ensure a healthy environment for the people.Addressing a press conference at the Hazara University, he said that Pakistan was prone to effects of global warming as

By our correspondents
February 07, 2015
MANSEHRA: Declaring war against the timber mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said here Friday that his party wanted to ensure a healthy environment for the people.
Addressing a press conference at the Hazara University, he said that Pakistan was prone to effects of global warming as water resources in the country depended on glaciers that were melting rapidly.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI general secretary Jehangir Tareen, provincial president Azam Khan Swati, Special Assistant for Environment Muhammad Ishtiaq Urmar, former federal minister Amin Aslam and Deputy Inspector General of Police, Hazara range, Akhtar Hayat Gandapur were also present on the occasion.
“The timber smugglers have been cutting trees worth Rs100 billion illegally from our forests during the last one decade. Our government has been taking concrete steps and legislating to end the timber smuggling in the province,” he added.
The PTI chief said that for the first time in the history of the province a chief conservator of forests was suspended and the Anti-Corruption Establishment issued his arrest warrants along with 15 other officials.
“The chief conservator has appealed to the Peshawar High Court to avoid his arrest but I will also take up the issue of timber smuggling with the court’s chief justice to dispose of such cases without any delay so that such corrupt officials could be taken to justice to protect the green gold in the province,” Imran Khan stressed.
He said the provincial minister for environment and director Anti-Corruption Establishment in KP had visited forests in Siran valley and found that 2,500 trees had been illegally cut.He said that during the three-year “Tsunami tree plantation programme” the KP government would plant about 88 million samplings in the province.
He said the forest guards of the Forest Department would be trained and equipped with modern arms and techniques.“We are also going to increase salary of the forest guards and other officials in the department besides announcing monetary share for them in case the timber is confiscated,” he added.
About the strategy to protect forests in the province, he said the KP government would sign an agreement under which grants in millions of dollars would be received.“We will try to create a sense of ownership among local communities so that they protect the forests from timber smugglers,” Imran Khan added.
He said it was unfortunate that currently four percent area of the country and 20 percent area of KP were under forest cover, though it should be 35 percent.Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said the provincial government had made legislation to curb the timber smuggling in the most effective ways.
“We are going to take onboard the owners of forests. Soon a meeting of forest owners from across the province would be held in Peshawar to evolve the future line of action,” the chief minister disclosed.
He said a new environment policy was being made and strict laws and penalties were being introduced to prevent deforestation and punish members of the timber mafia. He alleged that 20 million trees were illegally cut in Mansehra’s Siran forest division on the pretext of the windfall policy that these trees had fallen and needed to be cleared. He said the government’s carbon plus policy aimed at providing protection to the forests and increasing the area under the forests. “Under an agreement with the European Union, we would strive to increase our income from forests to the tune of Rs4-5 billion,” the chief minister said, adding that 25 percent reward money would be given to those providing information about illegal cutting in case the trees are confiscated.