It appears that the province of Sindh has become a den of Timber mafia and forests land encroachers, as the following two incidences reported in the media show. In one such case, a son of a Police officer escorted by 25 armed men came in a police mobile van, attacked the forest guard and encroached compartment No. 16 of Khebrani forest in Matiari district. In another case some people with backing of influential people injured the guard and occupied 300 acres of forest land of Bahman in the district Larkana. It is a pity that the Police in cahoots with the forest department are actively involved in such unlawful activities. In the case of Rsis Mureed Forest alone, more then 40,000 acres of land have so far been leased out by the department to local influential people. The province of Sindh at the time of independence had more than 500 square miles (about 0.8 million hectares) of thick forest on either side of the Indus. These forests were located on 87 different sites; 25 on the western and 61 on the eastern bank of the river. These forests were safety valves against river incursion and even floods. Besides, these woodlands were a source of livelihood for thousands of families who were tending livestock and also involved in bee farming and other forestry activities. Unfortunately, successive governments, including the present one, failed to perform their duty to protect our scanty forest cover. On the contrary, forest department more often than not is seen siding with timber mafia and land grabbers. The Chief Minster and Chief Secretary Sindh have to take notice of brazen violations of the forest preservation laws and order appropriate action against the perpetrators of crime at the earliest. I also request that the services of NGOs striving for preservation of forests should be acknowledged and personal security be provided to their members. AMANULLAH TURK, Dubai, November 13.