In a recent development, the Mansehra District Forest Department has taken strict action against corruption within its ranks, dismissing six officials, including a block officer and five guards, due to their involvement in timber smuggling activities in Siran Valley.
Divisional Forest Officer Mudassar revealed that the investigation found these officials guilty of having connections with the timber mafia and exploiting non-residential permits to facilitate the illicit transportation of valuable timber.
He emphasized that such misconduct is unacceptable within the department, as officials are expected to protect the forests and prevent illegal activities. The accused officials were issued show-cause notices, providing them with an opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations. However, they failed to prove their innocence, leading to the termination of their employment.
The District Forest Officer further detailed the extent of their involvement, stating that the dismissed Block Officer, Muhammad Rustam, and guards Muhammad Shujaat, Muhammad Qasim, Sameer Bakht, Safdar Shah, and Ehtisham Shah not only provided security for the timber smugglers but also participated in the illegal felling of deodar cedar and pine trees. The smuggled timber was subsequently transported to various parts of the country.
The Forest Department is committed to maintaining a corruption-free environment to preserve the natural beauty of the region for future generations. In light of this, a complaint letter has been forwarded to the secretary regarding the alleged involvement of forest department officials in timber smuggling in the Khyber district, requesting an inquiry and recommending the expulsion of officials implicated in the illicit activities.