Environmental concerns rise as unregulated tree cutting sparks investigation in Tando Allah Yar District

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Ashfaq Laghari

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Environmental concerns rise as unregulated tree cutting sparks investigation in Tando Allah Yar District

Ashfaq Laghari

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Read In Urdu

Abdul Wahid Nadhu Naseer is making goats’ milk tea by burning dry twigs in dense shade on the banks of Wah Canal. He brings his goats and sits near Nadhu Mori (bridge) every afternoon.

Here, the goats get the leaves of the kikar for food and the canal water to drink. Shade is available to avoid the heat, and the shepherd relaxes and drinks tea.

This Tando Allah Yar district area is 35 km from Hyderabad.

Thirty-five-year-old Abdul Wahid is a resident of Murid Nadhu village in the suburbs. It has been their routine to graze their goats on the left bank of Nasir Wah for the past 15 years.

He says that from November 2 to November 4, three or four people continuously cut parts of the trees (thick branches above the trunk) along the canal.

“About four kilometres from Nadhu Mori to Mirpur Khas Bypass Road, there are hundreds of kikar trees, neem and Sheesham on the banks of Naseer Wah. Machine-like saws were used to cut their large portions.”

Herdsman Abdul Wahid says that the thorn sorting of these trees used to be done before, but half of the trees were cut this time. Later, this wood was cut into pieces and lifted in loader rickshaws.

Seeing this fate of the trees, Munir Kalro, a resident of the nearby village of Manak Kalro, sent photos and videos of the cutting to local journalists. When this news was published in a local newspaper, Deputy Commissioner Tando Allah Yar, Altaf Gauhar Memon took notice.

Munir Kalro explains that public transport does not pass by the banks of Naseer Wah. When vehicles are absent, there is no justification for cutting such large parts of trees. This is nothing but the destruction of trees and the tree hostility of the government.

The Deputy Commissioner ordered Revenue Department official Patwari Munir Thebo to report the cutting of trees and the circumstances. Munir has confirmed the felling of trees in a conversation with Lok Sujag.

“When I reached Nadhu Mori, I saw that most of the tree trunks had been cut. Some trees did not even have half of them.”

He says that when he reached the spot on the evening of November 5, the wood had been removed except a few branches. He took photos and videos of the cut halves of the trees and sent them to his superiors.

Deputy Commissioner Altaf Gauhar Memon says that in light of the evidence received by the Revenue Department, strict action will be taken on the issue of tree cutting. However, nothing can be told to the media at present.

Tree thorn sorting and cleaning procedures

Shafaq Anwar Rajput, Range Officer of Social Forestry, is in charge of Sub-Divisional Forest Officer.

She explains that the trees are trimmed and pruned every year in November and December. Currently, the department is carrying out tree-cutting and cleaning work in the Nadhu Mori area of Naseer Canal, Gharib Shaakh (canal).

“The local herdsmen come to me for permission to do this work. These people pay a fixed amount to the department, and the branches become fodder for the goats. The forest department has received only one demand draft in Tando Allah Yar this year, deposited in the government account.”

According to the Lok Sujag records, a contractor named Arslan Jat made the draft of Rs30,000 deposited with the Forest Department. He made this draft in the name of his elder brother Irfan Jat from BankIslami on September 27 2023, and it was deposited in the Forest Department’s office, Tando Allah Yar, on the same day.

A work order was issued in the name of Arslan, son of Abdul Khaliq Jatt, on November 2, 2023, under the signature of Sub-Divisional officer Shafaq Anwar Rajput, according to which he has been entrusted with the work of tree cutting and cleaning from Naseer Canal Old Side Nadhu Mori.

The work order states that the cuttings will be done to improve and grow the trees. But the facts are that half of the trees have been cut and sold as wood.

Arslan Jat, the contractor, admits that he has sold the timber obtained from the cant sorting. Based on his position, he had taken the contract for cutting the trees standing three and a half kilometres from Nadhu Mori to Old Naseer Canal.
“The timber obtained from felling belongs to the contractor”.

Arslan admits that he does not have sheep and goats and deals in wood. He also admits that workers used harvesters to clear the trees.

“My brother Irfan will know how much he took the contract and how much he sold the wood.” However, Irfan Jutt refused to reveal anything. He said that all the details are available in the forest department office.

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Zain Khanzada, a resident of Qila, a suburb of Tando Allah Yar, says that in October, the peepal trees standing in the forest department’s nursery near the bridge on Naseer Canal were cut down. When the matter came to the notice of the forest department officials, the personnel had justified the overhead wires.

He says half of the kikar trees were cut for thorn sorting along the ‘Gharaib Shaakh’ near the Chambar Roa, Bhatta stop.

After all these matters came to notice, Secretary Forests Sindh, Najam Ahmad Shah has ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of Sub-Divisional Forest Officer Shafaq Rajput in the felling of trees at Naseer Canal and other places in Tando Allah Yar on November 23, 2023.

A three-member committee headed by Conservator of Forests Hyderabad Arif Ali Domki will conduct an inquiry into the cutting of trees and submit an inquiry report to the secretary within 15 days.

Sufi Jan Muhammad runs a wood business at Chambar Road. He says he gets more wood during the three months, from November to January. It consists mainly of kikar (gum Arabic tree) and acacia (devi) wood. Neem (margosa), Peepal (sacred fig), mango, sapwood and sometimes Sheesham wood (Indian rosewood) are also brought for sale.

“We don’t ask the source of the wood from the seller. It is not our job; we buy and pay at the market rate.

He says that till the first week of November, he has bought kikar wood at Rs470, Neem at Rs350 and Peepal and Sheesham wood at Rs300. He sends this wood to Karachi and Port Qasim for sale.

Published on 28 Nov 2023

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