CHITRAL: For the first time, women will get forest royalty in villages flanking the forests in southern Chitral, which has been seen as a major step to strengthen them financially and elevate their status in the society.

In the areas of Arandu, Sheshi Koh, Damil, Arsoon and Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur, the government pays 60 per cent of the income generated from the sale of forest timber to the local residents when the forest is harvested on commercial scale, which normally happens after every five years.

PTI MPA from Chitral, Bibi Fozia, told this correspondent that it was a revolutionary step taken by the incumbent government and now the forest royalty would go directly into the pockets of women besides the existing royalty holders.

She said that the disbursement of forest royalty through the joint forest management committees (JFMCs) was not legal as per rules given in the Forest Act as major chunk of the amount would go to a few influential people while women were ignored.

Appreciating the bold step taken by Chitral deputy commissioner Irshad Sodhar, she said that the step reflected the vision of PTI chief Imran Khan who stood for justice, equality and transparency.

DC says share of women royalty holders to be fixed as per Shariah

“The women will now be no more dependent on the male members of their families for money to fulfil their needs,” she said. The MPA said that in the areas near forests the sources of income for women were limited while poverty was rampant as there was no land available for agriculture which further minimised economic activity for womenfolk. She said that with money in hand the local women could also start small businesses as well.

When contacted, the deputy commissioner said that as per practice in vogue for the disbursement of forest royalty, the amount was placed at the disposal of JFMC office-bearers where the funds were often misappropriated.

He said that as per rules given in the law governing the management of forests in the province the royalty amount was to be disbursed equally among the residents of the areas having landed property there.

“As directed by the chief secretary, I decided to make direct payment of the royalty money to the royalty holders. I also decided to include the women of the area for the first time in the list of recipients and fix share for them as per Islamic Shariah,” he said.

In a household in Arandu, a man has seven daughters but no son and the decision of inclusion of women will benefit him, while in the old system he would have only one share for himself, the DC added while explaining how the step would benefit the women in forest areas.

Mr Sodhar said that a special survey was in progress in the forest areas by the district administration to compile the list of royalty holders, including women, and the disbursement of Rs149 million would be started shortly.

Awami National Party’s provincial joint secretary Khadija Sardar said that the step would bring about a tangible change in the lives of women in the border areas. She said that under Shariah a well-defined share was fixed for women in the family property.

Social welfare officer Nusrat Jabeen welcomed the bold decision of the district administration and said that making women the shareholders of forest royalty was in accord with the objectives of the district committee on the status of women.

Former MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali also appreciated the decision, but stressed transparency in disbursement of the funds by making direct payment to the women royalty holders through female staff.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2018

Opinion

Moral visions

Moral visions

In Pakistan’s current space-time configuration, the language of politics has changed dramatically.

Editorial

Prime minister’s challenge
Updated 04 Mar, 2024

Prime minister’s challenge

Shehbaz should remember that his govt will be walking a tightrope: policy confusion can quickly snowball into a national disaster.
Close to midnight
04 Mar, 2024

Close to midnight

THE Ukraine war has entered its third year, with no signs of a peaceful resolution. If anything, the principal...
Losing history
04 Mar, 2024

Losing history

WHILE we have history strewn all over, the debate around pro-preservation development is not loud enough. Last week,...
Little respite
03 Mar, 2024

Little respite

IS inflation on its way out? The Consumer Price Index showed that inflation dropped to 23.1pc in February from ...
More slaughter
Updated 03 Mar, 2024

More slaughter

Israel’s extremist leaders are on an apocalyptic mission to ethnically cleanse Gaza.
Without VCs
03 Mar, 2024

Without VCs

THE delay in appointing vice chancellors across Pakistan’s universities has mushroomed into a crisis, with one...