Menace of deforestation

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A three-member Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, has taken serious notice of illegal cutting of trees from forests in surrounding areas of the Federal Capital and issued warnings to Federal, Punjab and KP Governments. The members of the Bench observed that big names are involved in wood theft and smuggling and any lapse on this account would not be tolerated at any cost.
It is a fact that precious trees are being mercilessly cut from almost all forests of the area including Margallah Hills, Murree, Kahuta, Hazara and Azad Kashmir. Apart from illegal felling of trees for use as fuel and construction material, there are also instances of deliberately putting these forests on fire to wipe out traces of wood theft and this happens with full connivance of the relevant staff of the Capital Development Authority and Forest Departments of Punjab, KP and Azad Kashmir. The court has rightly pointed out that some big names have minted money through this illegal business and the departments concerned have closed their eyes to the activity. We believe that things are unlikely to change until and unless the officials concerned are taken to task and held responsible for felling of trees and incidents of fire in these forests. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deserves appreciation for approving the scheme for provision of Sui Gas to Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta as residents of these Tehsils are forced to fell trees and use them as fuel. The scheme should be prioritised in view of the gravity of the problem, as there would be catastrophic environmental consequences for entire region if deforestation continues unabated in these Tehsils. It is also responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Climate Change to draw and implement a workable policy for preservation and development of forests throughout the country in close coordination with the provinces.