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  • ‘There should be scientific method in place to determine rates depending on market conditions’

SRINAGAR: Setting the tone for major reforms, Principal Secretary Finance, Navin K Chaudhary today asked the Jammu andKashmir State Forest Corporation (JKSFC) to do away with the archaic ‘zoning system’ for determining the rate of timber.  The Finance Secretary made these remarks while chairing a meeting of JKSFC management regarding ‘Revision of Sale Rates of Timber’.

The meeting was also attended by Commissioner Secretary, Forest Ecology and Environment, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K, Suresh Chug, Managing Director JKSFC, Vasu Yadav, Secretary (Technical) Forest Ecology and Environment K Ramesh Kumar and other officers. “By ending this archaic system, it will make the process of timber procurement more transparent, hit at the roots of corruption and there will be less disaffection among people against the Forest department due to rate variation,” Navin said.   

Earlier, the SFC had divided the timber procurement areas into three zones - A, B and C - depending on the proximity of timber depots to the forest areas. The new measure would ensure that the timber is sold at uniform rates across all depots, except in some exceptional cases where significant transportation charges are involved.  Asserting that the natives of forests have the first right over the fallen material, the Finance Secretary urged the SFC officers to ensure that the timber is distributed among needy people without any fear or favour. 

“The process of auction is flawed. You should have some scientific method in place to determine the rate depending on the changing market conditions. Besides, people should be discouraged from purchasing timber which will protect the green cover of the state,” he said. Navin said during auction of timber, average auction price should be the base price of previous year while there will be a 15 percent concession on base price for all customers, “However, the BPL households will get 50 percent concession with a slab of 100 clft in two years and 250 clft in five years including for repairs,” he said.

He said the standing committee will review rates on annual basis and there is no need to get the reviewed rates approved by the cabinet as has been the norm, “The SFC is fully empowered to take a view of rate revision on its own without seeking cabinet nod,” he said, while asking the SFC members to keep the office of the Chief Secretary in loop regarding the issue.