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The News

Published Date: Apr 20, 2013

Approval for disposing of timber in Diamer resented

Civil
society organisations have lodged a strong protest against the controversial
approval to dispose of four million cubic feet of timber cut legally and
illegally in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan by former prime minister Raja
Pervaiz Ashraf which put the environment and bio-diversity of the area in
danger and might cause conflicts among people due to royalty and other issues.

The
Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Akhtar Hameed Khan Resource Centre,
Bio-Resource Research Centre and the Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad arranged a
session of environmentalists, civil society representatives and members of
local communities to discuss the issue.

BRC
Executive Director Fakhar-i-Abbas said that local communities are concerned and
want the decision to be immediately reversed. The community representatives
attending the gathering shared his views. Kanwar Javed Iqbal of SDPI said that
there is no mechanism in place to precisely measure 4 million cubic feet of
timber in concerned area, adding that the issue was also questionable in terms
of national legal framework and international binding agreements. He said the
order was vague that not only allowed illegal activities in Diamer but also
posed threats to the boundary-line forest area of Kohistan where movement of
timber by smugglers had already been reported by local community
representatives.

AHKRC
Director Fayyaz Baqir and former IG Forests Bashir Ahmed Wani called for taking
up the issue at various levels particularly with community and civil society
organisations.

The
participants resolved to launch a campaign through media, protest
demonstrations, forum meetings, seminars and meetings with policy makers and
politicians to withdraw the decision to protect environment in the area.

Professor
Afsar Mian, former Dean Forestry, Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, and
Muhammad Riaz, President, SAFI, also spoke on the occasion.