Jammu: Cracking its whip on timber smugglers,
the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to arm its forest
protection force, Forests Minister Mian Altaf said on Monday.
"We are arming Forest Protection Force (FPF) men in the
most critical forest sectors of Pir Panchal ranges and Shopian
in Kashmir Valley to deal with timber smuggling and felling of
green trees," he told reporters here.
He said Pir Panchal ranges and Shopian belt were the most
critical areas in terms of timber smuggling, felling of green
trees and encroachments.
"We have to procure new weapons and we have already
purchased some of them. These are lying with the Home
Department," he said, adding in the first phase the weapons
would be used in these two sectors.
"FPF men would be armed in next 10-15 days", Altaf said.
On encroachments on forest land in the state, he said
14,359 hectares have been encroached.
However, there has been no fresh encroachment, he said,
adding encroachments in Shopian, Sidhra, Budgam and other
places have been removed and the land demarcated.
To a question about construction of roads and tunnels
under Prime Minister Grameen Sadak Yojna in the forest belt,
he said no further construction would be allowed.