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Published Date: Sep 2, 2013

SDPI Press Release (September 2, 2013)

CSOs demanded enforcement of GB Order in letter and spirit

Illegal cutting and disposal of timber continues unabated in Gilgit Baltistan despite recent ban imposed by Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

The recent hike 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 4 million cubic feet of felled timber
already cut legally or illegally in district Diamer of Gilgit
Baltistan.

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 politicians.

In
a recent forum discussion, Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas, Executive Director,
Bioresource 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.