STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A large number of farmers and forest contractors on Saturday heaved a sigh of relief following crack-down on some of the Katha units, which had allegedly monopolised Khair wood trading within and outside the Jammu and Kashmir under the patronage of former Forest Minister Lal Singh.
Ever since Lal Singh was occupying the hot seat, he was virtually controlling the movement of supply of Khair wood to different Katha processing units. Other unit holders in the business were constantly earning losses as they were not given No Objection Certificates by the Forest Department. Even the farmers were not given Form 25 by the DFO’s in respective districts to ensure easy transportation of Khair wood.
Soon after the crackdown finished, Additional Secretary Forest Department M A Hakak issued a circular with regard to transportation of Khair wood on private lands within and outside the State. As per the circular, ‘Provision laid down in SRO 111 of 2016 dated 31/03/2016 notified by the Revenue Department, read with management plan for Khair wood growing on non-forest land issued by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K vide Notification No PCCF.COORD/KHIAR/MANAGEMENT PLAN/2016/2608-78 dated 26/04/2016 be implemented in letter and spirit’.
Since large quantities of Khair wood, dumped in the processing units were seized by the raiding team of Forest officials and State police on Friday the routine supply of Khair wood outside the State would begin soon.
The State government is expected to extend some concessions to local farmers as they were deprived by the former Forest Minister from transporting the Khair wood in the absence of mandatory Form 25.
Even the former Forest Minister was controlling the prices of Khair wood and not extending the real benefits to the local farmers. In comparison to price of Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per cubic feet outside the State, the farmers were forced to sell their produce at Rs 800-1000 per cubic feet by these units.
In addition, they had violated all the norms set up by the Apex court on felling total quantity of Khair wood and dumping adequate stock, depending on their plant capacity to process the same as per their licences.
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