Forest dept officials earn profits worth millions by selling valuable trees

  • Trees sold by authorities were culled during various development projects across Lahore

LAHORE: Selling unique and valuable trees culled during various expansion and development projects across the city, the officials as well as employees of the Punjab forest department have made millions overnight, while no action has been taken by the higher authorities against them or another six officials and 39 employees of the department reportedly involved in a corruption scandal.

According to sources, officials of the department accumulated profits worth millions by vending thousands of profitable trees culled during various development projects in Lahore including the construction and expansion of the Ring Road, Batti Chowk and the Ravi Road along with the up-gradation projects at the Manto Park and the National Park.

Among those who earned profits worth millions while selling the valuable trees are the divisional forest officer and other senior officials of the department, whereas, a minimal amount collected by auctioning some 20,000 trees was deposited to the national exchequer. No action has been taken against those involved in the illegal practice.

Similarly, no further proceedings have been carried out against another six officials and 39 other employees of the forest department who allegedly earned millions in a corruption scandal while mentioning non-existing plantation nurseries in the official papers for six years.

Sources further told Pakistan Today that owing to the alleged collusion of the forest department’s officials, the timber mafia too has earned loads of profits while selling the stolen trees. The illegal chopping down of trees across the division is also being practiced under the officials’ approval, they added.

It may be noted that the practice of tree culling follows the payment of the trees’ current market value to the forest department. Already earning from sanctioning illegal culling, the officers of the forest department double their profits by later selling the chopped down trees through auctions in which the timber mafia is catered on a priority basis.

Forest Department Divisional Officer Ahmed Hayat Chaudhry was telephoned for a comment, but he disconnected the call.