PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) issued notice to federal secretary energy over the use of forests as domestic fuel in hilly areas of the country.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan heard the petition against the government failure to control the timber mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Secretary Forest, Chief forest Conservator, Addition Advocate General Sikandar Hayat Shah appeared before the bench.

 “You are protecting or destroying forests,” the Chief Justice Inquired Secretary of Forests. The secretary said that the government is planting thousands of trees to increase the forest cover. He said efforts are underway to stop deforestation.

The forest secretary told the court that his department was protecting forests and new trees were being planted. Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan remarked, “Of course you plant new trees, it is a good thing, but also protect the centuries-old trees. Forests are our future, we have to ensure its protection.” The Chief Justice said that activities have also been started in the tourist destinations of Malam Jabba, Gabin Jabba and Kumrat which may cause damage to the forests.

The Forest Secretary told the court that people burn firewood in winter in mountainous areas, for which the Forest Department is providing free poplar saplings, which people cultivate in their fields and then use these trees as household fuel to avoid deforestation.

The Chief Conservator present in the court said that if alternative fuel is provided to the people of these areas, it would make the forests safer, on which the court issued notice to the Secretary Power and Energy  to submit response to the case until the next hearing of the case.

The Chief Justice directed the Secretary Forests and Chief Conservator of Forests to do their part for the protection of trees and improvement of forests. If anyone puts a record, request us and we will take action against them. The court directed the Secretary Forests and Chief Conservator to personally visit Malam Jabba and Gabin Jabba to see the situation there and submit a detailed report and adjourned the hearing till March 30.

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