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Intensify drive to curb timber smuggling: Lal Singh

Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment Choudhary Lal Singh today directed the concerned officers of Forest Department to take requisite steps for streamlining the system to ensure hassle free distribution of timber to the consumers. This was stated by the Minister after inaugurating the timber sale depot of State Forest Corporation (SFC) and auction of 1500 cft timber at SFC office in Kathua today. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests A K Singh, Deputy Commissioner Kathua Romesh Kumar, Director Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing O P Sharma, Director Soil Conservation Ravi Kesar, Managing Director State Forest Corporation Arun Tikoo, Director Social Forestry Suresh Chugh, Director Forest Protection Force Suresh Gupta, Joint Director Forests Protection Force Kh. Qamar-ud-Din besides Divisional Forest Officers of Social Forestry, Soil Conservation, Forests Protection Force and Wild Life Protection Force were also present on the occasion. Choudhary Lal Singh said that similar timber sale depots by SFC will be opened in every district for ensuring adequate supply of timber to the consumers and directed SFC to speed up process of timber dumping in sale depots. The Minister said that the drive against timber smuggling, launched by the Forest Department, has greatly helped in tightening noose around the culprits. He emphasized for intensifying the drive to curb timber smuggling and its perpetrators. Choudhary Lal Singh said that Government is making all efforts for the preservation and protection of forest wealth. He emphasized on massive aforestation and directed the officers to take anticipatory measure and plant the saplings on open chunk of forest land in order to check encroachments. The Minister asked the officers to be proactive and intensify field visits and closely monitor the activities launched by the department to achieve tangible results on ground. He directed officers to use the funds judiciously sanctioned under CAMPA. Choudhary Lal Singh said that Lakhanpur is gateway to J&K and it is the duty of Forest Department as well as the residents to make Lakhanpur clean and green by planting more trees as the greenery has positive impact on tourists. Earlier, Choudhary Lal Singh also visited Akhnooor and paid surprise visit to the Forest Check Post. Choudhary Lal Singh exhorted upon the Police, Forest Protection Force and the Forest Department to work in close coordination to curb timber smuggling. He directed for constituting village level committees for the purpose which can play an important role along with the department in saving the forests adding that more check posts are being set up near the forests at vulnerable places. Calling for acting strictly against those who plunder the forest wealth for petty gains, the Minister said that involvement of people can also help in curbing the menace of smuggling of timber and other forests products.