Srinagar, Jan 13 : Compared to previous years, the forest timber smuggling has seen sharp decline, as the year 2022 recorded seizure of over 14,000 cubic feet in the Kashmir Valley.
Acting with an iron fist against forest smugglers and anti-social elements involved in green gold loot, the Forest Department of Jammu and Kashmir along with Forest Protection Force and J&K police, seized hundreds of vehicles and recovered thousands cubic feet timber (cft) timber in 2022, reveals an official data.
According to the data accessed, the forest department has seized 38 vehicles carrying illicit timber across all its Kashmir forest divisions and also seized, 14412 Cfts timber in 2022.
Data reveals the department has seized 16 vehicles in South circle, 14 in Srinagar circle and 08 vehicles in North circle, while the department has also recovered 4249 Cft illegal timber in South Circle, 3394 in Srinagar circle and 6744 Cft in North Circle.
It reveals the department has seized 3191 Cft in the month of July itself, which was highest seizure in 2022, while it has also been found that during winters, axing of forest trees witnessed a steep rise.The horse smugglers have been a headache for the department, as smugglers use horses in hilly areas to transport the timber, thus causing massive damage to the forests.
According to the data, the department has seized around 66 horses in 2022 of which 37 horses have been detained in South forest circle, 22 in Srinagar circle nd 07 horse's have been detained in North Kashmir forest circle.
However, in 2021, the forest department seized over 18K Cubic Feet illicit timber and also seized 388 vehicles in the Kashmir valley. In 2022, the department constituted high level coordination and monitoring committees for strengthening the existing system of Forest and Wildlife Protection through improved coordination between the departments.
A senior forest official said that the monitoring committees were further categorized into 'Regional Level Forest Protection Committees' and 'Circle Level forest protection committees' for better coordination and monitoring for the protection of forests, that majorly helped the department to bring a decline in the forest timber smuggling and to add a new age to the flora and fauna of Jammu Kashmir.
He said the committees devises strategy and action plan for monitoring and improving the coordination between the Forest Department, Forest Protection Force and Department of Wildlife Protection for strengthening of Forest and Wildlife protection in J&K.
He also said the committees may send recommendations on policy matters to department of Forest, Ecology & Environment.
The official said committees were setup to monitor the implementation of the site-specific protection measures in the circle and address the forest & wildlife protection issues on real time basis.