Solving the Problem of Timber Shortage
Muhammad Maroof Shah suggests some ways to tackle the problem which has been bothering people for quite sometime now.
All problems have solutions if there is a will to find one. Would you believe that the problem of unemployment has been created and it can’t be solved as long as Capitalism is there? According to one of the most influential economic theories unemployment is artificially created so that workers shall ever be ready to work at lower wages. Once a person traveling with me in a local bus remarked that he is prepared to go even to hell if posts are advertised there. This is the situation of crisis created by Capitalism. Who will teach the unemployed army of youth that they are deliberately denied employment, that the system has been deliberately designed to exclude a large section from dignified living and dignified means of livelihood? Right to livelihood, a fundamental right by all means, is denied to many. Poverty is violence of human rights and I leave the problem of employment to some future date and focus presently on one important problem that is considered by many almost insoluble.
There is a problem of “shortage” of wood, huge problem of corruption in getting the case sanctioned, problem of waiting for the sanction to be effected, the problem of illegal cutting of trees and smuggling, the problem of huge expenditure on guarding the forest in terms of salary of guards, supervisors etc., and the problem of wastage of much fallen timber in forests which is not attended to for want of this and that. I propose to tackle the problem very differently that shall largely help in dissolving the above problems. I owe the idea to my teacher of chemistry at higher secondary school.
The department should give timber on ration cards to every family at a fixed rate which shall be supplied to applicants on demand. The problem of kerosene was similarly solved. Timber shall be supplied only on demanding and proof that timber is needed and shall not be simply hoarded. The applicant can get transferred the quantity issuable to his neighbours or friends to himself if they give written consent. No corruption will be needed on the part of public. Estimated requirements of timber in a village or colony shall be submitted by village committee democratically selected by village people. Supply of quality timber to applicants shall be monitored by village committees. I briefly digress on the establishment of village committees.
Let Development Commissioners ensure that in a month or so list of five members of selected village committee reach DC office from every habitation. People shall select committee on the basis of previous record in honesty, integrity, amicability etc. It shall be selected for two years every April. Local imam of main mosque in the area should preferably a member. One member at least must be highly qualified. The village committee shall supervise all developmental activities in a village or colony. It shall collect zakat, hides, ushr from the village. It shall make an estimate of zakat payable by each member march next year. Ushr shall also be collected. Assets of all individuals shall be disclosable before village committee. Committee shall be auditable by anyone in principle. The govt. shall also monitor its activities. The committee shall make a census of village, identify those to whom zakat can be offered. It shall pursue developmental plans and monitor all developmental activities. Contractors should get clearance from village committee. Educational institutions should also be checked by village committee. Midday meal scheme can be made quite accountable by its means. Construction of kitchens under SSA and other constructions such as those of roads could be overseen. Beggars shall be listed if any and professional begging banned. Strengthening village committees shall be a way of building direct democracy which is most effective mechanism for development. All court cases that any villager wishes to fight against fellow villager shall be first heard by village committee and its opinion shall have some weight in the court when final decision comes on it. Corruption cases against any member shall be promptly analyzed. Village committees are not panchayats that involve no reference to moral integrity of a candidate in selection and these are not really autonomous – if some minister phones a sarpanch justice can be a casualty.
How much timber do we need? The present need is far more than our real need. We build houses far more capacious than we need. Many build more than one houses as if man needs multiple graves. We have no land to build so many houses and that too big ones. On average only a couple of new constructions are going in a village. It will be easy for them to get timber legally..
Let the state rear timber on demarcated lands of thousands of canals for commercial purposes. Let more and more people shift to popular for meeting more and more needs of buildings. There should be ban on constructing huge houses from the government. A nuclear family with less than 5 members shall not be allowed to make more than two storeys. What for is the third story. There are countless examples that show bigger houses become bone of contention when it comes to division of inheritance and they serve no purpose except very occasionally serving for some functions, mostly marriage function. Now we do need to use shamyana etc. on such an occasion. So big halls on the third storey are largely of no use. Making a big house is freezing money that could well have gone into circulation for development of community.
Let the government tax 50000 on every third storey. Let it ban use of agriculture land for construction. Let it build 50 storey flats with every storey having 100 rooms. This will accommodate more than 500 families normally spread over four kilometers. We should encourage community houses where there are no walls between houses. Imagine after 40 years our condition. We would have increased our economic slavery as we have little productive land left. For those who see beneath the surfaces a colony of big glittering houses is a colony of graves. There are no souls inside those who build bigger and bigger houses on looted public money or allow their legitimately earned money to be so recklessly wasted. There are billionaires living in small houses. At the root of the perversion for big houses is the need to show off one’s wealth, to tell the world how successful one has been in one’s life.
More timber gets lost on account of decay for want of prompt disposal than is needed for construction of thousands of houses annually. If the Government is interested in solving the problem of shortage of timber smuggling it is quite achievable but the question is: why should it try to solve the problem. If the problems are solved where from will the money come that makes joining politics such a lucrative business. Strengthening civil society is the best means to achieve all these targets and effectively tackling most evils in society. Will civil society come forward to solve all these problems? Will the authorities take note of these proposals? Surely, if civil society builds pressure.
(The author is a Veterinary Scientist. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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