Forest fire rages on Ayubia hills

Locals blame timber mafia; officials say too early to comment

Ateeq Abbasi January 02, 2021


The already depleting forests of Abbottabad have suffered another blow in shape of a forest fire allegedly lit by the timber mafia to move illegally cut trees of pine and deodar, locals told The Express Tribune on Friday.

A fire raged in the forests of Mushkpuri, Birote Khurd and nearby Dunga Galli areas of Ayubia and Galiyat turning billions of rupees worth of timber to ashes. Forest Department Chief Conservator Azhar Ali Khan said it would be premature to say what exactly had caused the fire but added that the department is sending teams to contain the inferno.

The locals have accused the forest department officials of causing the fires to hide their corruption of collusion with timber mafia and appealed to the chief minister, chief secretary and all relevant quarters to order investigation into the matter. The forest fire started in the Birote Khurd Union Council and spread up to the hilly range reserve forest of Mushkpuri Galiyat while the forest department had been failed to save the precious trees.

Inhabitants of the area told The Express Tribune that fire incidents were a common phenomenon in the forest range of Galiyat and every year trees and wildlife were destroyed due to negligence of the department concerned.

The forest department had no arrangement to put out fire as every year a number of costly trees were burnt and wildlife killed in large numbers. The forestland had leopards, fox, jackals, deer, partridges and other birds and animals, which were either killed in scores due to wildfire or forced to migrate to lower populated areas.

Amna Sardar, an environmentalist from Galiyat and former member KhyberPakhtunkhwa Assembly told this correspondent that the wild fire issue is of grave concern and needs proper attention of the government.

She demanded that a highlevel inquiry must be conducted to find the reason of its recurrence. Upon being contacted, the Galiyat Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Taimour Ilays said he is unaware of the situation as he was not informed by his staff about any such incident of forest fire.


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