The Benue State Government on Friday warned the public against deforestation in the State.
The Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dr Godwin Oyiwona, noted that illegal felling of trees has serious negative effects on the climate and the environment.
Oyiwona said that there was massive deforestation across the remaining forests in the state by the various host communities.
He said that it was most disturbing that the locals were not planting new trees after cutting the existing ones and forgetting that the environment must be sustainable for healthy living.
According to him, the locals in some areas where the forests are located claimed that they were not compensated and as such have rights over the trees.
“Many years ago there were beautiful forests in Benue.
“There was one at Agan Toll Gate in Makurdi too. But they are no more due to deforestation by the host communities. They continue cutting the trees without planting new ones.
“Currently there is a kind of battle between the host community of the government forest, opposite Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority Makurdi and the government over the same thing.
“This time they are claiming that compensation was not paid for the land.
“So these locals enter into the forests and cut down the trees without planting new ones. This is a very serious issue and there is no strict penalty for such offence,” he said.
Oyiwona, said efforts were underway to change the narrative through adequate public enlightenment.
He said the ministry would use the forthcoming World Forest Day celebration to pass some strong messages across to the public.
Meanwhile, the commissioner assured that the state government was working to address the shortage of water supply in Makurdi.
He said that Gov. Samuel Ortom, had already demanded a quotation for the reticulation of Makurdi town for effective water supply.
Oyiwona said that the 50,000 cubic metres per day Greater Makurdi Water Works was not functioning to full capacity because the current areas covered by the existing reticulation could not take it.
He, however, noted only than 10 per cent of Makurdi residents who have access to water pay their bills.
Oyiwona said that the government was doing everything within its powers to ensure that the residents got regular water supply despite the existing challenges of reticulation, high cost of chemicals and diesel.