Anantnag: Taking undue advantage of the lockdown, an influential group of timber smugglers continue to damage Achabal Wildlife Sanctuary here by chopping of trees and lifting deodar trees damaged to snowfall.
According to official reports, timber smugglers are targeting different compartments of Achabal Rakh and looting timber in ‘connivance’ with the wildlife department officials and employees.
“In Achabal Rakh from Compartment 1 to Compartment 9 timber smugglers have chopped off trees,” official sources revealed to ET.
Pictures, suggesting wanton loot in Achabal Wildlife Sanctuary, have also appeared. During the intervening night, sources claimed that smugglers have chopped a green pine tree in Compartment No. 8 and smuggled the timber.
A few days ago, smugglers also sliced a deodar tree into logs and smuggled the timber.
“In Puchroo, smugglers sliced a deodar tree into logs and then smuggled it. officials are aware of this loot but they didn’t act due to the reasons best known to them,” they said, adding smugglers were smuggling deodar trees in the Achabal Wildlife Sanctuary and were enjoying the backing of wildlife department officials and employees.
Demand of complete checking Achabal wildlife sanctuary is gaining moment “Department must check whole Achabal wildlife sanctuary as it has suffered heavy damages during the ongoing lockdown,” a wildlife department official said, however wishing anonymity.
Wildlife Warden South, Rauf Zargar also admitted that the smugglers were enjoying support of field functionaries.
In a letter to Regional Wildlife Warden, Zargar points out that of his field functionary (Block Officer) namely Mushtaq Ahmad seized timber last month but didn’t seize the vehicle in which it was being ferried.
“Block Officer Achabal Mr Mushtaq Ahmad intercepted a vehicle on during the intervening night of 28th and 29th of April and seized illicit timber of 23.05cft (5 logs of Kail & 4 logs of Deodar) but didn’t made any arrest or seizer of vehicle but clandestinely allowed the driver to feel from the site along with the vehicle,” letter, a copy of which lies with ET reads.
Sources also claimed that timber was smuggled on behest of senior officer of wildlife protection department.
“After some vigilantes raised the issue and informed police timber was seized,” they said.
FIR No. 39/2020 dated 05-05-2020 was registered at Police Station Achabal and investigation is on, they added.
Range Officer, Latief Ahmad admitted that smugglers have stolen deodar timber from Purchoo block of Achabal Wildlife Sanctuary and he has sought a report from the Block Officer, however claimed that recent damage, of which pictures have appeared on social media, falls in the jurisdiction of Forest Division Anantnag.
“It is just adjacent to our compartment but falls under the jurisdiction of Forest Division Anantnag,” he told ET.
DFO Forest Division Anantnag, Feroz Ahmad Chakket said that his team has combed the area particularly the boundary and had found no damage.
Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Gupta assured to enquire the matter. ‘I will get it enquired and special team will constituted for investigating the matter,” he texted back to this reporter.