Lahore : Five culprits of illegal cutting of thousands of trees from the Reserve Forest near Choohang Town have been arrested red-handedly by the Sheikhupura Police on the orders of Additional Chief Secretary Punjab Shamail Ahmad Khawaja who has directed to take this action while presiding over a meeting of special committee constituted by the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif to probe into the matter, today.
During the meeting, the Additional Chief Secretary was briefed by the Secretary Forests Punjab Capt.(R) Muhammad Jahanzaib, DCO Sheikhupura Arqam Tariq and DG Mines & Mineral Department, Punjab, Raja Khurram Shahid Umar.
The Additional Chief Secretary in the capacity of Chairman Special Committee on illegal cutting of trees passed directions to apprehend the culprits under the law sections against broad day light dacoity and take them to the task.
The meeting was told that behind the populous area of the Chohang Town, there is a reserve jungle under the administrative control of Punjab Forests Department. The total area of this jungle is three thousand acres of land which touches the bed of River Ravi. Out of this forest area, 690 acre area is not afforested while trees of Eucalyptus and Dalbergia (Sheesham) in multiple lakhs of number are planted.
It is an irony that the Provincial Department of Mines & Minerals had granted two years lease for mining purpose to excavate ordinary sand and mud from this forest area with the result that five acres of land has become a swamp having 35 feet deep stagnant water. This illegal act was being committed by the contractor with the connivance of the forest guards who have not installed pillars to demarcate the forest area.
Shamail Ahmad Khawaja said on this occasion that illegal cutting of more than 35 thousand trees and illegal excavation of ordinary sand from the forest area is not tolerable in any case and the Punjab Chief Minister has taken serious notice of this situation. Resultantly, the Sheikhupura police and District Administration took a surprise raid in the area and arrested five persons busy in cutting the trees.