Chitral women to get share in forest royalty: JFMC members oppose

CHITRAL: For the first time, women will get forest royalty in villages flanking the forests in southern Chitral, which has been seen as a major step to strengthen them financially and elevate their status in the society.

In the areas of Arandu, Sheshi Koh, Damil, Arsoon and Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur, the government pays 60 per cent of the income generated from the sale of forest timber to the local residents when the forest is harvested on commercial scale, which normally happens after every five years.

PTI MPA from Chitral, Bibi Fozia, told this correspondent that it was a revolutionary step taken by the incumbent government and now the forest royalty would go directly into the pockets of women besides the existing royalty holders.

She said that the disbursement of forest royalty through the joint forest management committees (JFMCs) was not legal as per rules given in the Forest Act as major chunk of the amount would go to a few influential people while women were ignored.

Appreciating the bold step taken by Chitral deputy commissioner Irshad Sodhar, she said that the step reflected the vision of PTI chief Imran Khan who stood for justice, equality and transparency.

DC says share of women royalty holders to be fixed as per Shariah

?The women will now be no more dependent on the male members of their families for money to fulfil their needs,? she said. The MPA said that in the areas near forests the sources of income for women were limited while poverty was rampant as there was no land available for agriculture which further minimised economic activity for womenfolk. She said that with money in hand the local women could also start small businesses as well.

When contacted, the deputy commissioner said that as per practice in vogue for the disbursement of forest royalty, the amount was placed at the disposal of JFMC office-bearers where the funds were often misappropriated.

He said that as per rules given in the law governing the management of forests in the province the royalty amount was to be disbursed equally among the residents of the areas having landed property there.

?As directed by the chief secretary, I decided to make direct payment of the royalty money to the royalty holders. I also decided to include the women of the area for the first time in the list of recipients and fix share for them as per Islamic Shariah,? he said.

In a household in Arandu, a man has seven daughters but no son and the decision of inclusion of women will benefit him, while in the old system he would have only one share for himself, the DC added while explaining how the step would benefit the women in forest areas.

Mr Sodhar said that a special survey was in progress in the forest areas by the district administration to compile the list of royalty holders, including women, and the disbursement of Rs149 million would be started shortly.

Awami National Party?s provincial joint secretary Khadija Sardar said that the step would bring about a tangible change in the lives of women in the border areas. She said that under Shariah a well-defined share was fixed for women in the family property.

Social welfare officer Nusrat Jabeen welcomed the bold decision of the district administration and said that making women the shareholders of forest royalty was in accord with the objectives of the district committee on the status of women.

Former MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali also appreciated the decision, but stressed transparency in disbursement of the funds by making direct payment to the women royalty holders through female staff.? .. Source..

JFMC members oppose DC’s move to give a share to women in Forest Royalty

CHITRAL: Members and representatives of the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) Chitral on Thursday said the deputy commissioner?s new initiative to give shares to women in the forest royalty would lead to ?widespread violence in Chitral besides bringing disrespect to the purdah-observing women of the forest areas.?

A couple of days ago, the deputy commissioner office announced that a team of officials headed by a revenue officer had started a survey in the southern parts of Chitral to give women shares in the royalty of forest.

It said the survey had been started on the special direction of KP Chief Secretary Azam Khan. The survey has been launched to ensure that women members of each and every family getting forest royalty were given their share in the money in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.

But speaking at a press conference in Chitral on Thursday, members of the JFMC rejected the new initiative of the government and said it was a move against the purdah-observing women of Chitral. They said the deputy commissioner would be responsible for consequences of such a move.

Those who spoke at the press conference included member District Council Sher Muhammad, Haji Anzar Gul, nazim Sher Muhammad, Saifullah and Malik Sher Zamin. They said the forest royalty had always been distributed among the beneficiaries through the JFMC constituted under a notification issued by the government. Now bypassing the notification, the DC has started a survey through his own staff which would never be acceptable to the forest owners and other beneficiaries.

They were of the view that the royalty of forest was always distributed among the communities on the basis of the number of family members. As members of the JFMC belonged to the local communities and knew well the number of each family, involving government employees from other areas in the system would not only create resentment among the beneficiaries but would also led to flaws in the process.

They claimed that women members of the communities were also getting benefit from the royalty and the DC?s claim that a number of women had approached him seeking shares in the royalty was baseless.They said the deputy commissioner should withdraw his decision and stop the survey otherwise he would be responsible for its consequences. ?Muhkam Uddin Ayuni? ?.. Source

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