MINGORA: The local residents on Friday alleged the cedarwood smuggling from Kalam and its suburbs to other parts of the province and insisted the police and forest officials had connived with the people involved in the activity.
Upper Swat is known for forests of cedar, whose precious wood is used to make doors and windows, and furniture due to durability. According to the people, there is no check on the illegal transportation of cedarwood from the area to other parts of the province. Bahrain village councillor Dost Mohammad Khan told Dawn that a small truck loaded with cedarwood was seized recently.
“Our sources in Kedam village informed us that a mini truck loaded with cedarwood and covered under gravel had crossed the Kedam police check post. We stopped the truck at Bahrain check post and found cedarwood hidden in it during inspection,” he said. The councillor alleged that some policemen and forest officials had connived with timber smugglers.
Residents insist police, forest officials have connived with smugglers
Mujahid Torwali, a social activist in Bahrain, said the civil society members were concerned about wood smuggling in the area. “We are much disappointed with the officials deployed at the check posts located between Mankial and Bahrain. The check post operators allow the vehicles loaded with cedarwood to move on after being bribed,” he said.
Afrin Khan, a resident of Kedam village, said the government had banned local residents from cutting and using cedarwood even for domestic use but some influential ‘timber mafia’ transported wood to other parts of the province freely.
“The wood smuggling has caused difficulties for the local residents, who don’t find cedarwood for domestic use and building houses,” he said. The villager demanded strict action against the officials behind the cedarwood smuggling.
When contacted, Kalam DFO Shah Hussain said he had banned the movement of cedarwood out of the area and that the authorities were in contact with the police to check wood smuggling.
“We are highly alert to check illegal transportation of cedarwood. I must say that under the current circumstances, smuggling or illegal transportation of the wood is impossible,” he said. The DFO said the forest department had taken legal action against cedarwood smugglers.
“We appeal to the local residents to immediately inform us for crackdown if they learn about the transportation of cedarwood out of the area,” he said.
Published in Dawn