Jason Burke from Pir Panjal Mountains

From Guardian: “…Forest will Disappear…

“We are not happy about the future,” Dar, the cleric of this tiny hamlet high in the Pir Panjal mountains, says. “We are worried about our woods.”

For the real problem in Kharg, and more broadly in Kashmir, is recent. The insurgency that has wracked the region for two decades is at a low ebb and an economic boom, in part fuelled by cash poured in by central government to win hearts and minds, has meant a voracious appetite for wood for new homes, hotels and other construction.

The smuggling industry involves corrupt bureaucrats, relatives of ministers and wealthy merchants. It is they who make the real money: tens of millions of pounds a year by some estimates.

“There is a major problem of political complicity,” said Naeem Akhtar, until recently a senior bureaucrat in the Jammu and Kashmir ministry of tourism. “There is one area which was exceptionally beautiful with huge tourist potential. If you go there you can see a massacre of the trees right from the last village as far as the horizon.”

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