Land mafia destructs Helmand forests
LASHKAR GAH (Pajhwok): Land mafia ruthlessly cut down forests on more than 13,000 acres of land and seized the swathes during the past four decades in southern Helmand province, an official said on Thursday.
Provincial Agriculture Director Rafiullah Qalam told Pajhwok Afghan News Helmand had comparatively large forest areas than other provinces, but the areas had been reduced to only 300 acres as the forests were turned into agricultural fields.
According to his department, land mafia had seized nearly 1700 acres of land in Nad Ali district, 1500 acres in Khanshin district, 17 acres in Kajaki district and 18 acres in Greshak. They had already transferred the documents in their name.
“Forests have been completely demolished in Helmand. We have plans to develop forests again once the security situation gets better”, Qalam added.
He demanded complete support from the central government in implementing their plans since the provincial agriculture department was not strong enough to wrest back the usurped land from the powerful land mafia.
Mohammad Nabi Khan, the provincial environmental protection director, said deforestation went unchecked because people did not know the importance of forests in protecting the environment.
Man-grown and natural forests protected the air from being polluted and also enhanced natural beauty of an area, Khan said.
Haji Janan, a local elder in Nad Ali district, got nostalgic when asked about the comparison in past and present forests in the area. He recalled the 30-kilometer road between Lashkargah and Marja district had forests and meadows on both sides, adding to the natural beauty of Helmand.
More than 300 acres of forests along the Helmand River gradually destroyed by fire eruptions due to negligence on the part of provincial officials.
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