Give solid evidence or petition will be thrown out: Sindh High Court
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has warned a petitioner to submit documentary evidence of his allegations on forest lands leased in Sindh, or his petition will be thrown out.
Rana Faizul Hasan, a representative of a civil society organisation, alleged in his plea that vast forest lands in Thatta, Larkana, Sukkur and Hyderabad were leased out to individuals under the Forest Land Act, 1927.
The lessee had cut down millions of trees and also taken over the lands, he claimed. The Sindh chief secretary, the secretaries of forest, irrigation and finance departments, the senior member of the Board of Revenue and chief forest conservators of four districts have been cited as respondents.
“Under the law, the lease holder should ensure up to 25 per cent forest cover besides paying the prescribed amount per acre to the state,” he stated, “but neither was being ensured.”
In 1980, Sindh had forests spread over 600,000 acres. One-third of the country’s total forest cover has vanished at the hands of land grabbers. Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate of two per cent every year – the highest annual deforestation rate in Asia, said the petitioner.
Hasan appealed to the court to call the entire record of forest land leased out. However, after hearing his arguments, the judges observed the petitioner had only asked for general relief. Neither the location of the forests leased nor any relevant laws or regulations being violated were stated, they said.
While adjourning the hearing, SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam, who headed the bench, directed the plaintiff to submit the particulars of leased out forests before the next date of hearing, otherwise, the petition may be dismissed.