(MENAFN - Pajhwok Afghan News) ASADABAD (Pajhwok): Documents obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News show a local government official is complicit in illegally cutting forest trees in eastern Kunar province.
According to the documents, Kunar Telecommunications and IT director, Dr. Sayed Mohammad, by joining hands with a number of local illegal armed men, has been cutting forest trees in Badil Dara valley of in Narang district.
Though Mohammad was introduced to the provincial Attorney Office by the governor's house a few months back, still no action against him has been taken so far.
Documents obtained by Pajhwok
One of the documents Pajhwok has received shows that copies of a letter from Narang district headquarters were sent to the provincial Agriculture Department, the National Directorate of Security ( NDS ) and police headquarters on April 29, 2018.
The letter listed names of people, including the provincial IT department director, involved in illegal cutting of jungles in Badil Dara valley of Narang district and asked for prevention of the illegal practice.
Another document about the deforestation in Badil Dara valley says a number of local people have signed a writ petition signed by village councils about the illegal cutting of forest trees.
The petition says local people have been protecting pine nut trees in Badil Dara valley for years but now the trees are mercilessly cut down by strongmen of Hadwal village of the district.
The people in the petition say Kunar IT director Dr. Sayed Mohammad was in command of the deforestation. The appeal signed by seven village councils also confirms that the IT director and his friends were involved in the illegal act.
The petition is also signed by Narang district chief and district development council.
Kunar provincial council head, Walayat Khan Mashwani endorsed the petition and demand practical steps from the governor's house to prevent the illegal felling of forest trees.
Kunar's deputy governor Gul Mohammad Baidar in his message in the petition has asked the provincial Appellate Court to follow the issue on legal ground.
In another document, the provincial crime branch has sought information about the jungles deforestation from Kunar NDS headquarters which in response said the jungles were being cut down by Hadwal people.
Local people and the provincial council
Residents of Badil Dara area of Narang district complain no one has so far taken any action regarding the deforestation issue despite their repeatedly complaints to the officials concerned.
They say the issue was also referred to the Kunar appellate attorney few months back but no steps were taken and neither anyone involved in the illegal activity was arrested.
A tribal elder, Abdul Qadir Safi, told Pajhwok that the jungles in their area were cut down by a number of illegal armed men ordered by Kunar IT director.
He said all officials of Kunar were aware about the issue but they chose to keep mum.
Another tribal elder, Noorul Amin, said they had shared the list of individuals involved in the deforestation which included the IT director and 15 of his friends to the district headquarters, the provincial council and other local organs, but the appellate attorney was neglecting the issue and was cheating them with different excuses.
Walayat Khan Mashwani, the provincial council head, also asked the local administration to take prompt action with regard to the illegal cutting of forest trees.
'Those involved in this issue should be brought to justice as soon as possible,' he said.
Kunar civil society activists say illegal deforestation in the province has been ongoing from the past but no one has taken any action to stop it.
Matiullah Shahab, a civil society activist in Kunar, said the deforestation case of Badil Dara area was pending with the attorney office over the past eight months without being followed.
Negligence of local administration
The Kunar agriculture department accuses the local administration of negligence to prevent illegal deforestation in the province.
Agriculture officials say they are aware about the deforestation in Badil Dara and have identified those involved.
Matiullah Saboor, jungles general manager of Kunar, told Pajhwok that Badil Dara jungles were cut by strongmen from Hadwal village. He said Kunar IT director, Dr. Sayed Mohammad, was also a resident of Hadwal and also involved in the issue. He said most of Badil Dara jungles had been cut down.
Kunar appellate attorney's actions
Kunar appellate attorney officials say they have prepared the case of IT director and would send it to the court in near future.
The case of the IT director with the appellate attorney remained unprocessed for months.
Kunar's deputy governor sent the case to the appellate attorney on December 3, 2018. According to the Article 100th of Afghanistan penal code, the attorney should refer the case of a suspected criminal to the court within a month, but the case of deforestation in Kunar could not be sent to the court in more than three months.
Abdul Hamid Haidari, Kunar appellate court head, said they had prepared indictment and other docs about the IT director case and would send them to the court soon.
He said the attorney has the right to extend the case process of a suspected criminal for 90 days according to the Article 149 of the penal code.
Gul Mohammad Baidar also said a government official was also involved in the cutting of Badil Dara forests who he said provided fuel to smugglers.
"This issue has been investigated in the attorney office and would be sent to the court within two days', he said.
He assured that the local administration was now controlling the forest area and had closed all routes to the jungle.
Kunar governor's spokesman Abdul Ghani Musamam said the governor's house has developed a plan for prevention of illegal deforestation in the province and the plan had also been approved by the president. He said they were taking steps to implement the plan.
The plan includes creation of local counils for protection of jungles, distribution of seed plants to people living near forests and some others issues, he said.
Kunar IT director's reaction
Dr. Sayed Mohammad Madadzai said two tribes had a dispute over the forests and he belonged to one of them, but the rival tribe added his name to the list of jungle cutters in order to defame him.
He said he had not visited his village since a decade due to security problems and allegations made against him were all baseless.
Damages caused to Badil Dara jungles
Kunar wood sellers say a pine tree is sold for 80,000 afghanis and by this amount, Badil Dara forests suffered around 100 million afghanis.
Kunar jungles management department says around 1,200 big trees in Badil Dara valley had been cut down.
Economic experts say jungles are national asset of a country and their protection is very important.
Taj Mohammad Tamkin, a university lecturer and economic expert, said that a country's income depended on its agriculture, industry and services and forests made a major part of it.
Kunar has 4,825 square kilometers of land and 60 percent of it is covered by forests.