700 booked for timber smuggling, 75 forest officials suspended: Govt

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JAMMU:  Around 700 people have been booked for smuggling of timber and 75 forest department officials suspended for alleged dereliction of duty in the state last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government said today.

“As many as 702 people have been booked in 221 FIRs lodged by the forest department in connection with forest offences (forest smuggling),” Minister for Forest, Lal Singh said in a written reply to the question of NC MLA Ali Mohammad Sagar in the Legislative Assembly.

Besides, the department has seized 12,256 cubic feet of timber 37 vehicles, 86 ponies and horses, three hand carts, he said.

Singh said 223 challans, in which 563 accused were involved, have been submitted in the competent courts for forest offences.

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“The government has also submitted 37 dossiers to the District Magistrates and eight persons detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) for repeated forest offences as it issued 11 detention orders in this regard,” he said, adding 75 forest department officials have been put under suspension for dereliction of duty and Rs 4.28 lakh had been recovered from them.

Singh also said in the initial stages of last year’s unrest, unscrupulous elements tried to lay hands on the forests but the department took immediate steps to check it.

Forest protection in itself is a big challenge and control rooms remained functional to take cognisance of complaints, he said, adding wherever information regarding damages to forest or commissioning of forest offences was received, timely cognisance was taken under law

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