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July 11, 2020

Lawmaker seeks policy to sell dead trees in KP forests

Peshawar

July 11, 2020

PESHAWAR: The longstanding issue of fallen and dead trees and timber in the forests of the province, particularly Dir Kohistan echoed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Badshah Saleh called for a government policy to save the timber from further damage.

Through a call attention notice, the mover drew the attention of the House towards the issue of fallen and dead trees in the forests, saying timber worth of billions of rupees was decaying.

He recalled that the then prime minister Moen Qureshi had banned the cutting of wood in 1992 and the ban was still intact. He pointed out that the fallen and dried trees lying in forests caused billions of rupees loss to the public exchequer and forest owners besides creating environmental problems. He said the government should devise a policy to lift these trees and precious timber and sell them in the market as it would earn handsome amount for the government.

According to the set formula, 40 percent of the forest or sale timber went to the government and 60 percent to the forests owners as royalty, he said, adding by lifting the fallen and dried trees both the stakeholders can get huge benefit and local environment and forests could be saved from further damage. In his reply, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Sultan Muhammad Khan said it was a genuine demand and the government would soon devise a strategy for it. He said it was correct that the then government put a ban on cutting and carrying all king of wood from forests in the country. The policy was relaxed in 2003 by introducing a new policy under the name of windfall trees and the Forest Development Corporation (FDC) was authorised to lift and purchase such timber, but in 2015 the ban was again placed.

The minister said that the government and the departments concerned would soon devise a strategy to utilize the timber. The issue would be definitely taken up in the coming cabinet meeting, he assured the House. Sardar Hussain Babak of the Awami National Party (ANP) on a point of order raised the issue of power loadshedding in the province and said the hours-long unscheduled power cut had made life miserable for the dwellers in different parts of the province. He said the province was generating cheapest hydel power double than its consumption but the consumers in KP were facing hours-long outages despite paying bills at the rate of Rs12 to 18 per unit. Offering the opposition’s help, he asked the government to raise the issue with the centre, adding that in the past the issue was raised time and again but it could not be resolved as the government in centre and province were of different parties but now the same party ruled the province and centre. He said it was ironic that the province has been facing severe financial crunch but the federal government was not releasing its arrears of more than Rs550 billion on account of net hydel profit. He termed it a nexus of the provincial and federal government to deprive the province of its due rights and warned the opposition would stage protests if the government failed to resolve the loadshedding and NHP arrears issues. Earlier, the House unanimously adopted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Water Bill, 2020. The House also referred to the committee concerned the question by Salahuddin of ANP about posting of some police officers at one station for years. Salahuddin and Khushdil Khan of the ANP complained that some DSPs had been working at the same station for years.

Supporting the point, Sardar Babak said some DSPs had been serving at the same station since 2015 while some DPOs and secretaries were being transferred within three months.

Mir Kalam Khan also complained about sharp rise in target killing in Waziristan. However, Law Minister Sultan Muhammad argued that some police officers were posted in sensitive areas keeping in view their ability to control the law and order situation, and the mover did not mention any mistake of a specific officer. Naseerullah Khan, MPA from Dera Ismail Khan, complained he was going home when a vehicle tented glasses overtook his car and blocked the road. He added SHO Badbher police station Bilal and his cops misbehaved with his guard when he went to the site despite the fact that he (MPA) had introduced himself.

Deputy Speaker Mehmood Jan avoided rumpus in the House by adjourning the sitting till Monday, 3pm when female members from the opposition interrupted the law minister as they were not allowed to speak.