FOR the last 10 years indiscriminate chopping of trees has been continuing in the Kachho area of Johi tehsil, without any hindrance from any government authority.
Kachho is a natural disaster - prone area. Its residents face floods or at times drought. Both bring untold difficulties for dwellers of this sandy strip.
Inhabitants pray for heavy rains or even floods because after a brief period of displacement and difficulties they expect cash and food crops and abundant fodder for their livestock.
However, nature is not always merciful to them and clouds hardly shower the badly needed rainwater. During the drought people heavily depend and survive on their livestock and rope - making.
Before the tree killing spree began, the thick cover of 'kandi', 'lai' and 'jal' trees covered the entire Kachho. The leaves/braches of the 'kandi' and 'jal' tree used to provide the fodder for the sheep, goats and camels.
And the fruit of 'jal', called 'peroon', was a major source of livelihood for the majority of Kachho residents.
But ruthless and uninterrupted cutting of these trees has wiped the entire Kachho clean of trees. Pleas and protests by some persons from Johi and Kachho fell on deaf ears of authorities concerned.
For the last six months the timber mafia has crossed all limits in uprooting these trees. The mafia is now taking away even the stumps of trees, using sophisticated machines.
This has created an alarm for the ecosystem, economy and livelihood of the locals. A local NGO, Sujag Sansar Organisation, has opened a camp to educate people that cutting of trees is harmful from the point of view of both economy and environment. But the greedy timber mafia is a hard nut, difficult to be tamed unless the government comes with full force against it.
The absence of trees means less rain, land erosion, absence of greenery and wild animals and birds. In short, Kachho would lose all its beauty and there would be displacement of a large number of people.
THIS is unfortunate to know through a report (Nov 11) that Sindh's most valued woodland, Pie Forest, identified as one of biologically 40 richest eco-regions in the world, is threatened by influential land mafia of the area.
According to the report of the Forum of Environment Journalist Pakistan (FEJ), which is working in collaboration with the World Wide Funds for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P), by now out of 1,933 hectares about 250 hectares of forest land has already been grabbed by the local land mafia.
As if highhandedness of land grabbers with our natural heritage is not enough, people living in surrounding villages are frequently seen cutting trees for use as firewood.
The destruction of priceless forests is an unpardonable crime for which not only those thugs who have no regard for our natural wealth but equally responsible are forest officers without whose explicit consent this barbarity is next to impossible.
I request the chief minister and the chief secretary to take cognizance of the destruction of Pie Forest without delay and ensure that not only the land already grabbed is restored to the forest and the erring officials and criminals punished but also ensure that the remaining land is saved from their clutches.
ZOHAIB ALTAF QURESHI