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news details
Timber distribution in Budgam: RTI exposes fake beneficiaries
6/20/2019 12:03:48 AM
Early Times Report

BUDGAM, June 19: At a time when the Governor's administration is committed towards eradicating corruption in Jammu and Kashmir, a scam in allotment of timber has surfaced in a village in Budgam district of central Kashmir, where people allege that more than 650 cubic feet of timber has been allotted to fake beneficiaries.
The information sought under Right to Information Act (RTI) has revealed that as many as 20 beneficiaries out of 42 are alleged to be fake as they do not happen to be the residents of the village where the timber is said to have been distributed during last two years.
Details available with Early Times reveal that more than 1300 cubic feet of timber (fir variety) has shown to have been distributed in Watrad village of Khanshaib tehsil of Budgam during 2016 to 2018 by the government through State Forest Corporation (SFC).
This information was provided to a local resident namely Ajaz Ahmad Dar under JK RTI Act 2009 by the office of SFC vide letter No: 52/PIO/SFC dated 25.05.2019. When the locals made a cursory look at the information provided they were shocked to note that more than 20 beneficiaries were not the actual residents of Watrad about which information was provided. Locals allege that some officials of SFC have sold the timber in black-market and on papers it has been shown to have been distributed to the locals.
"We appeal Divisional Manager SFC Budgam and Managing Director to probe the issue. We have full faith in Divisional Manager who is an upright young officer. He must find out the black sheep in his organization who sold the timber in black. A state wide probe needs to be undertaken as expose in Watrad is the tip of the iceberg. I believe this is a scam not restricted to only one village, but it is a state-wide scam," said Ajaz Ahmad, the information seeker who has been provided information under RTI Act by SFC.
Pertinent to mention that Ajaz had filed RTI before the office of Governor to get these details. The office of Governor had forwarded the letter to Forest department, Civil Secretariat, which then forwarded the same to SFC vide letter No: FST/RTI/70/IDNO0070/2019, dated 9.04.2019.
Locals of Watrad allege that many persons shown in the list provided by GM SFC Srinagar are not local residents of Watrad at all. In addition to it information seeker Ajaz Ahmad Dar had not been provided information pre 2016 (from 2014 to 2016) which was to be provided by Forest department, but the same is yet to be provided . He is now mulling to file second appeal before State Information Commission
"The list shows that Mohammad Shabir Mir, son of Ghulam Nabi, of Watrad has been provided 30 cubic feet of timber ( Fir), but there is no person by this name in the village. Similarly, Ghulam Mohammad Khan, son of Aziz Wagay is shown to have been provided 55 cubic feet of timber while as there is nobody with such a fake name and surname in the entire village. How can a person with Khan surname have his father's surname as Wagay? Ghulam Hassan Khanday has been shown parentage of Gani Kala and has been allotted timber measuring 26 cubic feet.
"This is all fake information and we will take up the issue with Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)," said Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, chairman RTI Movement.
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