Illegal logging goes up in protest-hit Tarai districtsForest authorities from various Tarai districts that are under protests and curfews for more than a month now have reported illegal logging and smuggling along the border areas with India.
Forest authorities from various Tarai districts that are under protests and curfews for more than a month now have reported illegal logging and smuggling along the border areas with India.
According to district forest officers from Bara, Parsa, Mahottari, Rautahat and Siraha, due to poor security and ongoing curfews, illegal logging and firewood collection are going unchecked.
“We have not been able to mobilise our staff for patrolling and monitoring along the forestland bordering India for almost a month now. This has led to increase in logging and smuggling in these areas,” said Jeevan Kumar Thakur, district forest officer of Bara.
The national forest stretched along the southern border in areas, namely Jaitapur, Madhuban, Parsauna, Kakadi, Kolbi and Nijgadh, are most vulnerable to illegal logging, Thakur added. In the past one week, the forest office in Bara has arrested people and seized around 500 cubic feet of Sal logs. “This problem that resulted from ongoing political crisis cannot be solved at the local level. This has to be addressed from the central government by putting an end to the ongoing political unrest in Tarai,” said Thakur.
The situation is not different in neighbouring Mahottari district. Forest officer Shree Bhagwan Gupta said the national forest stretching along the India border are seeing illegal timber smuggling either for local consumption or trade. Members of some local community forests are also found involved in illegal logging.
Police personnel are mobilised in the protest-hit areas and highway regions, Gupta said, as a result timber smugglers have become active in recent times.
“Forests have always borne the brunt of political crisis that have taken place at different intervals of time. And
the situation of forest degradation and encroachment compounded with illegal logging have always posed a
serious challenge for forest conservation,” said Rameshwor Khanal, chief of Chure Tarai-Madesh Conservation Committee. Last week a report from
Parsa district stated that green trees are being cut down and local furniture makers and mills are storing timber, especially Sal and Satisal logs, in villages like Sedhawa, Sankharsariaya, Paterbasugauli, Sonbarsha, Gadi and Madhuban Mathbal.
The concerned district forest officers from the Tarai/Madhes districts have informed about the increased logging to the Department of Forests.