Forest owners have demanded of the government to extend 80 percent royalty to forest areas in Malakand division, by removal of unequal policy enforced in forest populated areas for last a decade. Speaking at press conference here at Press Club on Thursday, President Sarhad Awami Forestry Itehad (SAFI) Riaz Mohamamd Khan said the forest ordinance had executed for extending of royalty to forest development areas in 2005.
Under the Forest Ordinance, he added, it was announced to give 80 percent royalty to forest areas in Hazara division, district Bunner, Dir, but Swat and rest parts of Malakand division got only 60 percent royalty. It was reflected a sheer unjust with forest populated areas under the same law, said President SAFI. He said the policy was immensely created a sense of deprivation among the forest development areas, which must be abolished forthwith.
Flanked by the SAFI General Secretary Jamshid Khan, Co-ordinator Riaz Ahmad, and other forest owners, he recalled that former MMA government had also endorsed to extend 80 percent royalty to forest development areas of Malakand division by tabling a resolution in provincial legislative assembly. But the present government had failed to enforce the decision, which was against the rule of business of the provincial legislative assembly, he informed.
Though, he said the elected representatives from Swat had also made announcements at different forums to extend 80 percent royalty to forest populated areas in Swat valley, and rest of areas in Malakand division, but yet to be implemented. The President SAFI said the forest populated areas in district Dir and Swat valley had deprived of 80 percent royalty since the execution of the discrimination law. “We will not accept any discriminatory law, which has deprived forest populated areas from their legitimate right,” he warned.
Regarding the growing cutting of trees in different forest areas, he said the about 60 to 70 percent forests had illegally cut down after imposition of a decade long ban as mushroom level deforestation was carried out by timber mafia backed by forest officials in the forest areas, he maintained.
Owing to prolonged ban on cutting of trees, he said the forest department had failed to generate optimal revenue for the last a decade. “We need to lift ban on legally cutting of trees, to not only generate revenue in national kitty, but also to discourage the increasing illegal cutting down of trees in different parts of the province,” he suggested.
The President SAFI said the relevant law was only panacea of all ill, which must be abolished as maximum empower given to forest officers under it. He demanded of the government for immediate removal of the discriminatory law, to end the sense of deprivation in the development areas. He warned that they would reserve the right to use legal options and protest, if their demand was not fulfilled forthwith.