Chitral is the largest district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and greatly impacts the environment in the country due to its geographical location. The Chitral river, known in rest of the country as the Kabul river, originates from the north of Chitral and contributes to meeting water requirements in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, as well as in other regions.

Owing to the greenery and peaceful environment, large numbers of local and foreign tourists also visit this paradise on earth to enjoy local festivals of the district, such as Shandur festival, Qal Qaqlash festival and many other events in Kalash valleys. If there is any unrest in the country in the form of terrorist activities and militancy, Chitral is the only area which provides a little bit of relief to the people to enjoy their summer vacation in the district and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Unfortunately, the previous administration gave a free hand to the timber mafia that led to terrific deforestation in this district in the past five years. Although environmental activists brought this problem to the notice of the then Khyber Pukhtunkhwa administration, no tangible efforts were made to control the ruthless cutting of green deodar trees in the forest of Chitral by timber contractors, in collaboration with the forest department.

Even now the practice is in progress. Recently the district forest officer, Chitral, accorded sanction for marking (artificial harvesting) different sections of forests, which is regarded as a legal technique of deforestation and hidden weapons in the hands of the timber mafia to annihilate forests in connivance with the forest department. Basically the Forest Development Corporation (FDC) introduced artificial harvesting of diseased, dry standing and windfall trees in order to enhance regeneration of plants to provide a suitable environment for green trees.

The timber contractors benefited from this weak and impracticable strategy of the Forest Development Corporation and ruthlessly cut green trees instead of dry standing or diseased or windfall trees so that they could get financial benefits from this illegal business. During harvesting the forest department officials should monitor timber contractors but unfortunately they do not do it properly. Thus the timber mafia plays havoc with Chitral’s forests. Chief Minister Justice (r) Tariq Parvez should take notice and halt artificial harvesting in Chitral till the completion of the inquiry.

REHMAT ALI JAFFAR DOST,

Chitral, April 3.