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The Lahore Times

Published Date: Sep 2, 2013

Illegal cutting, disposal of timber continues unabated in GB

Illegal cutting and disposal of timber continues unabated in
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) despite recent ban imposed on the directives of
Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The recent increase in illegal cutting of tree started after a
controversial notification (vide ‘Order No. C-6(1)/2011GBC’ dated 15th
March 2013 ) by former Prime Minister, Pervaiz Ashraf under which
authorities allowed to dispose-off four million cubic feet of felled
timber already cut legally or illegally in district Diamer of

The controversial lifting of decades old ban on transportation of
felled timber has provided opportunity to timber mafia, who has started
fresh chopping of trees on an unprecedented scale in Thag, Babusar,
Batuga and Thore forests in district Diamer in brazen complicity by
forest officers and under patronization of local influential

In a recent forum discussion, Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas, Executive Director,
Bio-resource Research Centre (BRC), Mr. Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal,
Senior Policy Researcher at Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI) other civil society representatives commented that the efforts
of local community activists for defending the case of environment in
particular and civil society at large on continuous basis.

Mr. Kanwar Iqbal declared the situation of non-compliance of Prime
Minister’s order as worst case in the history of Pakistan for which the
incumbent government took strong notice of the situation, and Prime
Minister, Nawaz Sharif issued an order (1554/SPM/13) on 5th July 2013,
to immediately put a ban on cutting and transportation of trees in GB.

But unfortunately, the order went un-implemented and not took
seriously even by forest authorities and law enforcement agencies. He
added that the smugglers and other operators had have harvested the
trees more than 4 times of the original provisions as were granted under
the regime of President General Zia-ul-Haq for which the forest
department is equally culprit through showing wrong numeric allocations
in forest work-plans. This is posing a major threat to the local
environment of the region which has critical climate vulnerability
index, if not stopped otherwise.

Civil society organizations have demanded authorities to enforce the
orders of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in its true letter and spirit
to stop smuggling of timber. They asked for detailed investigation of
the issue and bringing the culprits to task. Civil society also urged
authorities to have detailed survey of the recent loss to forests and
take measures to recover the damage.