Gilgit - Baltistan

Chitralis deprived of forest royalty, PA told

PESHAWAR, Jan 21: Forest royalty worth millions of rupees which was supposed to be paid to the local community in the Chitral district has been unlawfully given to the Frontier Corps.

The provincial assembly was informed during the question-answer session on Wednesday that on recommendation of the then divisional forest officer the district revenue officer concerned had paid forest royalty of over Rs19 million to the Chitral Scouts about four years ago.

PPP lawmaker from Lower Dir Dr Zakirullah raised the issue in the house. Speaker Kiramatullah Chagharmati presided over the session.

The mover said the government had auctioned trees in protected forests on Compartment No: 25 in the Ashereet area of Chitral. Under the forest rules, 60 per cent royalty of the protected forests would go to the local community and 40 per cent to the provincial government.

He said lands and protected forests in the Ashereet area belonged to the local community.The Chitral Scouts had a small fort in the area, he informed the house. The MPA said revenue generated through auctioning the forests was over Rs23 million and the department was bound to pay 60 per cent of the amount to the local community.

He said that instead of paying royalty to the forest owners the amount was paid to the paramilitary force. He said the government should take action against the officers concerned and recover the money from the Chitral Scouts for onward distribution among the community people.

Minister for Environment Wajid Ali Khan, responding to the question, conceded that the money had been paid to the paramilitary troops, instead of royalty holders. He said an inquiry had been ordered and asked the chair to refer the matter to the committee concerned of the house. Dawn

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