Timber smuggling on rise in Chure regionThe subsequent rise of timber smuggling in community forests located in the remote areas of Palpa and Nawalparasi has been blamed on the weakness of DFO and Community Forest.
According to sources, smugglers have been hauling timber to saw mills at the district headquarters before sneaking them out to various parts of the country by concealing them under hay or straw after cutting them into pieces. Government permission is not required to ferry hay in the country. In a recent instance, police seized a huge load of illegal timber in Nawalparasi.
The new tactic adopted by smugglers had come to light when Dumkibas Police Post in Nawalparasi took control of a truck with illegal timber worth millions, three days ago. Acting on a tip-off, police had followed the truck from Butwal and seized the timber upon reaching Dumkibas. The timber was concealed under hay loaded in the truck bearing number plate Na 2 Kha 9370. According to police, the truck belongs to a saw mill located at Shreenagar, Palpa.
The police have already handed over the timber to Area Forest Office, Dumkibas. Meanwhile, truck driver, Suraj Raut of Tansen-11, Palpa, and truck conductor Suman BK has been remanded into custody for further investigation, said Assistant Forest Officer (AFO), Mohan Raj Kafle. According to him, they had seized 375.32 cubic feet of timber sawed into 674 pieces. The DFO said that the timber could fetch approximately Rs 1.5 million in the market.
As per sources, the timber was loaded from Banstari along the Siddhartha Highway. Sources said that some of the confiscated timber in fact did have legal permit but the DFO claimed that it would be automatically rendered illegal since they had failed to follow due procedure. Kafle, however, said that further investigation is necessary.
Meanwhile, Palpa AFO Krishna Prasad Gyawali said that they were yet to receive an official stance on the issue. “It does not matter whose timber it was or whether it had a legal permit, they should have followed due procedure while transporting them,” he said.
It has been found that over the past couple of months, smugglers have been transporting illegal timber to saw mills at the district headquarters from Mityal, Jyamire, Dobhan, Kachal, Gothadi, Stayawati and Beldhangi VDCs. The timber is said to be allegedly smuggled by some consumer committee members and contractors in collusion with forest officials.
A timber businessman said it is impossible to transport large hauls of timber without coordinating with consumer committee officials and DFO staffs. Locals complained of timber smuggling being rife in VDCs near to Chure and Tarai.