Epilogue News Network (ENN) has reports the timber smuggling is continuing unabated and ironically right under the nose of administration. According to reliable sources this unlawful activity is being practiced in Gulmarg region, a world famous tourist destination located around 60 kms from Srinagar. This tourist destination is located in a fragile ecosystem of Pir Panchal range of western Himalayas.
We have evidence that timber smugglers use a tested practice of killing the pine trees by removing their bark. Bark is the protective layer on the outside of tree trunks and branches of pine trees and all other kinds of trees. It serves the same purpose as the skin on animals. Bark protects and nourishes a tree. Sometimes when people wish to kill a rid of a tree, they choose to remove the bark in a complete circle around the tree’s trunk and let nature take its course. Removing the bark around the trunk is referred to as “girdling.”
Our reporters have collected picture evidence from ground zero. This gory site of pine trees is from a location behind Khyber resorts in Gulmarg clearly showing the bark of pine trees removed. During winter period when ground is covered by snow, these trees will be illegally cut and removed in connivance with the official machinery.
It is pertinent to know that the soil in Gulmarg comprises glacial deposits, lacustrine deposits and moraines of Pleistocene age covering shales, lime stones, sand stones, and other variety of rocks. Pine trees which surround the cup shaped Gulmarg valley play a very defining role in holding the sand stone and lime stone rocky bed of mountains intact and protect it from erosion.
Considering the fragile eco system of this world famous tourist destination, J&K High court has repeatedly directed the state administration especially the Commissioner/Secretary Forest, Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority and concerned departments to ensure preservation of ecology and environment of territories falling under Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA).
There are widespread allegations by the local residents that forest employees are either failing in stopping the loot, or hand in glove with the smugglers. Locals say that while on one hand forest department was organizing plantation driver, on other hand officials are directly or indirectly involved in the smuggling.