Timber mafia: Dozens of trees cut in Sector G-8/2

Locals allege contractors cut wrong trees allegedly in connivance with CDA officials

Shahzad Anwar March 02, 2017
Cut tree-stumps covered by branches. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Some men, claiming to be contractors working with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have been chopping down trees in the Sector G-8/2.

Residents said they had seen a blue truck loaded with tree trunks while shifting the wood from the area.

Wing Commander Eubaid, a resident of Sector G-8/2, told The Express Tribune that on February 20, a few CDA officials from the Environmental Wing came to the wooded area with a contractor, Haji Buro Khan, and some labourers.

Eubaid said that the CDA officials and the contractor told locals that they were going to clean out the nearby storm drain to ensure the smooth flow of water through it ahead of the upcoming rainy season and to cut the Paper Mulberry trees.

Hoping that they would clean out the drain, some locals even helped the contractor pitch their tents inside the jungle.

However, the next morning, residents saw that the contractors had chopped down some Rosewood (Sheesham) and Mulberry trees along with the Paper Mulberry, for which they had a contract to cut down.

Locals said that the trucks came at 4 am every day after the contractors arrived. They loaded the chopped timber, and left two hours later by 6 am, before locals could gather and stop them. Residents said that as many as 30 to 35 fully grown trees had been chopped down while their stumps were covered with mud, moss, bushes and even tree branches to cover them up.

Residents of G-8/2 including retired bureaucrat Javed Awan, Iftikhar Ahmed Chatta, Lt Colonel Zaheeruddin Baber, student Sarmad Numan, Faisal Butt, Chaudhry Saleem and Suhail Ahmed also echoed Eubaid’s observations.

Abdul Qudoos, another resident of Sector G-8/2, alleged that CDA officials had connived to chop down the precious Rosewood trees under the garb of cleaning the storm drain using a fake contract of cutting Paper Mulberry through a fake contract.

He added that large trees, with trunk diameters between 40 to 45 inches and located over 100 feet away from the storm drain, and had nothing to do with the flow of water, had been chopped down.

Another resident echoed Qudoos, stating that trees, including Rosewood, with diameters of around four feet had been chopped down. Some of the trees chopped down were between 15 to 20 years old and if sold in the open market, would fetch a hefty price between Rs15,000 to Rs25,000.

Rosewood and Mulberry are used for preparing expensive furniture, while Paper Mulberry are used to make matchsticks.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said that when they discovered that the wrong trees were being cut down, they informed the CDA and the police. However, neither CDA nor police responded. He said that repeated calls were made by locals to the authorities for two days, but to no avail.

Finally, Eubaid said, the locals took matters into their own hands and approached the contractors at their camp site and asked them what they were doing, warning them that the police and CDA had been informed about their activity. Soon after, the contractors packed up their gear, uprooted their tents, and left.

The CDA chairman has appointed officials dedicated towards stopping timber smuggling and curb the theft at every CDA inquiry office.

Meanwhile, CDA’s Director Public Relations Mazhar Hussain told The Express Tribune that the matter would be raised with the concerned officials of the civic agency and stern action would be taken against timber mafia and the negligent officials.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2017.