PESHAWAR - Forest royalty holders from District Chitral have expressed concerns over the unnecessary delay in royalty payments, demanding for immediate issuance of the royalty withheld by the Forest Development Corporation for last several months.

Addressing a press conference here at the Press Club on Thursday, Chairman Joint Forest Management Committee Network, (JFMC-Network), Maj. (Retd) Ahmad Saad said that the Forest Development Corporation (FDC) has yet to be issued royalty payments in forest areas in district Chitral. He said that the delaying tactics were are being adopted in order to create unrest among the royalty holders.

Flanked by royalty holders and residents from forest areas of district Chitral, Saad alleged that officials of FDC had deposited royalty payments in personal account to use it for their own purpose and gain interest on it.

He said that the FDC has become a redundant institution, which is failed to gain its objectives and work merely as a contractor in district Chitral.

He demanded inquiry against the Acting Managing Director of FDC and other officials over delaying in disbursement of royalty payments for last several months. He added that the unnecessary stoppage of royalty amount was tantamount to depriving locals from their legitimate rights. The authority should immediate issue royalty.

“We will not tolerate any deceptive ways to deprive royalty holders of their legitimate right,” he warned. Saad further said that the most of forest populated areas totally dependent on royalty, because none of other source of income generation, whereas the forest localities also lacked adequate health and education, and other livelihood facilities. He demanded immediate release of the royalty cheques to holders hailing from forest areas in district Chitral, and should also revive old disbursement payments.

The royalty holders threatened that they would compel to launch an agitation drive against officials of FDC and would take extreme steps in this regard, if their demands were not fulfilled immediately.

Meanwhile, the administration of Lower Dir has constructed four link roads, paved streets and laid down drainage system in Miana Bathan, Chatpat, Mian Banda Miskini Mayar Union Council, Pashatai and Ali Mast Sale Miana Adenzai villages of the district. These projects would benefit thousands of dwellers as well as connect dozens of villages to each other. A press release issued by Malakand Development Programme (MDP) stated that 5532-meter extensive Miana Bathano road has been rehabilitated from Kityari area to Ouch Sharqi. Along with the road 15-meter long culvert has also been constructed.

It said that 758-meter extensive street has been paved and 272 meters long drain has been laid down in village Chatpat #2, Lower Dir. In its ongoing efforts the administration constructed 974 meters long road in Mian Banda Bathoro area of union council Miskini Mayar. Three pipe culverts were also structured along the road side to prevent flooding and ensure water flow.

Mian Ayanullah, Assistant Commissioner Lower Dir, formally inaugurated the newly constructed road. In village Pashatai of union council Munda, a 933 meters long PCC link road was rehabilitated besides building up 230 meters long retaining wall. The link road in Ali Mast Sale Miana Adenzai, which is 1264 meters long has been constructed along with 1112 meters long drains and pipe culverts to improve poor drainage system of the village. The aforesaid development projects would not only benefit more than 18000 individuals, but also the local inhabitants particularly students would easily access to schools, hospitals and markets.