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UPPER DIR: Precious deodar and Kail (blue pine) trees are being felled ruthlessly to be used as firewood in the remote Kohistan valley of Upper Dir district without any check from the provincial government.

The cutting of precious deodar trees in Kumrat, Thal, Kalkot, Barikot and other areas of the Kohistan valley continues unhindered as the locals claim they have no other source of heating and cooking in the harsh winter season.

Qari Mohammad, a resident of Thal, claimed that only the Kumrat and Thal areas’ dwellers cut the precious deodar trees worth Rs1 billion each year. He said the people of Kalkot, Barikot and Byar also used deodar tree for heating and cooking purposes.

It is to mention here that the people of Kohistan valley had offered the government a few years back that they were ready stop cutting deodar trees if they were provided with the natural gas facility. However, the government did not pay any heed to their demand.

The residents worried that if the cutting of precious deodar, Kail, oak, and other trees continued at the existing pace, it would destroy the forest cover within a few years.

They said that temperatures dropped to minus 7 to 10 degrees Celsius in the winter months in Kumrat, Thal, Kakot and other areas of the Kohistan valley due to which they were forced to use huge amounts of firewood to keep them warm.

Meanwhile, the residents of the plain areas, including Dir, Chukiyatan, Bibyawar, Darora and Wari, are also facing shortage of firewood due to a ban on movement of oak tree which is the main source of firewood in the area.

They said that the ban had also caused an increase in the price of firewood, adding they had to make advance bookings at the wood sale points due to its shortage.

The sale point owners said they were facing difficulties in bringing firewood from nearby areas. The people of Upper Dir demanded of both the federal and provincial governments to provide gas facility to the district and also find out other alternate sources of fuel in the remote areas like Kohistan valley to help preserve the precious forest cover.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2017