Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh today said the Government would act tough against the timber smugglers across the Kashmir region. Addressing a press conference at his office chamber in Civil Secretariat, the Minister said some anti-social elements are trying to take advantage of the prevailing situation in the Valley and resorting to loot the green gold in the Valley. He warned the smugglers of dire consequences, saying that Government will take strict action against the people found involved in timber smuggling. He said the department has been receiving complaints about increasing timber smuggling in Kashmir valley especially from Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Kupwara wherein some people are taking advantage of prevailing situation and cutting down green trees. The Minister said the department will act tough against the people involved in smuggling and stated that if any official of the department was found involved in facilitating smuggling he/she will be dealt strictly which can also lead to termination from job. Choudhary Lal Singh also appealed people to help the department in saving the green gold, saying that forests of Kashmir are the property of the people and Kashmir is known as paradise because of the forests and hence people need to help the department for preserving the asset of green gold. Choudhary Lal Singh said the department is striving hard to increase the forest cover of the State. The department will plant 15 lakh saplings on Shankaracharya hills and Zabarwan forests, he maintained. Meanwhile, Choudhary Lal Singh inspected the plantation drive launched on Jammu – Kathua National Highway and peripheral areas. He asked the forest functionaries of Kathua, Samba and Jammu to personally monitor the ongoing plantation drive in their respective jurisdictions and stressed on covering all the road side strips, forest compartments and open spaces.
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