Taking undue advantage of the ongoing unrest, timber smugglers have been working overtime to loot as much of green gold as they could till the situation returns to normal.
Sources told news agency CNS that smugglers have been looting the green gold in broad day light across Valley particularly in North Kashmir.
"Some miscreants in Srinagar city have also been taking the advantage of the current situation and are busy in raising illegal structures in the green belt area as well as in the peripheries of Dal Lake," sources said.
A top forest official, wishing not to be named, said that unabated loot is going on in lush forests of Kothar range, Shopian-Pulwama, Doodganaga range, Rithan range, Beerwah range, Googaldhara area in Tangmarg, Rafiabad, Doabgah range and Kandi range of Baramulla district. "We are unable to mobilize our work force to put a check on these smugglers. We found ourselves helpless," the official said adding that the system has completely fallen apart.
Sources said that forest smugglers have done extensive damage to the Kashmir forests while illegal felling of trees has been going on continuously.
"In the current unrest even the official monitoring mechanism has fallen apart which has only contributed to the increased illegal activity," the official added.
Locals from Handwara, however, alleged that smugglers are using their private vehicles to ferry illegal timber and there is nobody to stop them. They said that smugglers and the department employees are hand in glove and share the booty equally.
Sources added that large number of Chinar and walnut trees have been axed by vested interests. Some people are busy with illegal constructions inside Dal Lake and at tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam which are otherwise prohibited under law. CNS