Jammu (Ramnagar), July 28 | Alleging unprecedented loot of Forest wealth in Basantgarh Jungles, the Members of Kissan Sangathan led by Shankar Dass, Ex-Sarpanch of Amroh Panchayat held a meeting at Kulwanta and expressed grave concern over the large scale destruction and smuggling of Deodar trees in particular.
The Kissan Sangathan leader Shankar Dass alleged that a well-knit mafia was operational in the area with Deodar and conifer trees besides medicinal plants worth several crores were being destroyed and smuggled out of the area due to collusion of departmental officials and notorious characters of Dudu-Basantgarh.
He said that despite repeated complaints to Anti-Corruption Bureau, Chief Conservator Forests, DFO, and others no action had been taken. In a fresh memorandum to Lt. Governor, the Kissan Sangathan called for immediate action failing which the local people would be forced to launch an agitation. The memorandum giving names of some local smugglers and their facilitators stated as under.
“Several complaints of destruction, vandalization, and loot of Forest wealth by unscrupulous elements and notorious characters of Basantgarh area of District Udhampur have fallen flat with officers concerned failing to book the vandals due to vested interests. The Jungle mafia has caused immense damage to Forest resources with open damage and loot of deodar and other forest products including ‘Guchhi’s’ and other medicinal plants from the area. In this connection, several reports have been filed against one Kewal Parihar who is the kingpin of the notorious gang of smugglers and is indulging in brazen loot of forest wealth in league with some corrupt officials of the Department. It is shocking to note the smuggling of timber being carried on openly by the forest mafia with none left to take cognizance.
Pertinent to mention that Kewal Parihar has dumped hundreds of such smuggled deodar scants and other unauthorized timber at Kothi Nala, Basantgarh besides other places in the vicinity of Basantgarh area under full patronage of the corrupt officers. And while destruction and smuggling of deodar attract the provisions of Public Safety Act besides other criminal laws, the delinquents in Basantgarh seem to have been granted immunity by the Forest Department-smugglers unholy nexus”.
Seeking immediate action in the matter, the members sought the immediate personal indulgence of Lt. Governor so as to save the Forest resources from devastation and ruin.