Govt actions in Kashmir decrease forest timber smuggling: recovery drops from 18K ft³ in 2021 to 10K ft³ in 2023

Govt actions in Kashmir decrease forest timber smuggling: recovery drops from 18K ft³ in 2021 to 10K ft³ in 2023

Sajad Lone

Srinagar, Jan 14 : The actions of Forest Department of Jammu and Kashmir, along with the Forest Protection Force and J&K police has resulted in almost 80% fall in timber smuggling recovery in 2023 as compared to year 2021.

According to data, year 2021 recorded a seizure of over 18 thousand cubic feet, 2022 recorded a seizure of over 14k 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 the Forest Protection Force and J&K police, seized around 40 vehicles and recovered thousands cubic feet of timber (cft) in 2022, reveals official data.

According to the data accessed by Kashmir News Service (KNS), the forest department has seized 37 vehicles carrying illicit timber across all its Kashmir forest divisions and also seized 10,290 Cft timber in 2023-24.

The data reveals the department has seized 13 vehicles in the South circle, 17 in Srinagar circle, and 07 vehicles in the North circle, while the department has also recovered 2177 Cft illegal timber in the South Circle, 2443 in Srinagar circle, and 5945 Cft in the North Circle.

It reveals the department has seized 2110 Cft in the month of May itself, which was the highest seizure in 2023. 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 17 horses in 2023 detained in the South forest circle, while the central and North have recorded nil.

However, in 2022, the forest department seized over 14K Cubic Feet illicit timber and also seized 38 vehicles in the Kashmir valley.

The Jammu Kashmir forest department has also lodged 159 FIRs, where Kamraj range has the highest of 67 FIRs against timber smugglers. Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department has now introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Facial Attendance Management System for its field staff with a view to bringing transparency and more accuracy in the department to monitor daily operations.

The launch of the app will bring transparency and more accuracy in the department to monitor daily operations. The launch of the app will also help to curb forest timber smuggling, an official said.

He also last year 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.

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 forest timber smuggling and to add a new age to the flora and fauna of Jammu Kashmir, he added. (KNS)

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