Forest wealth of J&K under great stress as timber mafia makes hay


During the rule of the Maharajah the forest wealth of Jammu and Kashmir was preserved because the rules were formed by the British officers, and the state forest department ran like an organization which was answerable to the ruler. Every tree was marked, and there were full details in the registered, and no one could dare disobey the law.

However, the entry of democratic rule in the state has lead to withering of the forest laws with every one interested in wanton loot, and destruction of this wealth which is necessary to survive for the mother earth. Since the onset of populist rule, powerful people with political connections have looted the forest wealth of the state which has caused massive deforestation, and led to gradual erosion of soil in the hilly areas. The repeated landslides, and mudslides which happen in different parts of the state are a result of fading forests across Jammu and Kashmir. Militancy in the state also lead to giving a free hand to the timber smugglers, who cut vast swathes of the forests when there was no check from the legal authorities. Sometimes all this happened with the connivance of the officials, and there have been instances that the entire racket had the patronage of the politicians.

Officials of the department are known to be posted in ranges which have high incidence of timber smuggling for years together. Even junior officials have been given high charges as they have significant political backing. The timber mafia also enjoys clout with the police, and others in administration and as such has been indulging in wanton loot of the forest wealth of this nation. A major problem is that those involved in smuggling of timber are not punished as court cases drag on for year, and the criminals use various loopholes in the legal system to enjoy the gains from illegal wealth. Timber smugglers have scant regard for law, which is imposed half-heartedly by the authorities, and this is leading to the destruction of forests in Jammu and Kashmir. If this is not checked our forests will turn barren soon, and this does not augur well for the state.

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