Timber smuggling unchecked in SarlahiAround 120 cubic feet wood recovered from Janakinagar collaborative forest in Sarlahi over the past few months.
The felling and smuggling of timber go unchecked in several forests of Sarlahi, a Tarai district in Province 2.
Janakinagar collaborative forest in Hariharpur Municipality-1 has been seeing a rise in tree felling and smuggling cases of late. According to the Division Forest Office in Sarlahi, around 100 sal trees were cut down in the forest in the past few months.
“The forest office has tightened security in the forest spreading from Ghurkauli to Janaknagar after we were informed about the tree felling incidents. The smugglers left the felled trees and ran away after we intensified forest patrolling. The forest employees are collecting the logs now,” said Madhav Prasad Dev, the chief at the Division Forest Office.
Dev suspects that the residents of various nearby settlements might have been involved in the rampant felling of sal trees.
“Preparation is underway to raid nearby settlements in coordination with the local police units. The forest office could not raid the settlements earlier due to the festive season,” said Dev.
According to the Division Forest Office, 120 cubic feet of wood has been recovered from Janakinagar collaborative forest so far.
“Search for the felled trees is going on. The smugglers mostly cut down trees from the remote parts of the forest,” said Dev.
The local people, however, blame the indifference of the forest office and the office bearers of the forest users’ group for the unchecked felling of trees in Janakinagar collaborative forest.
“The forest office remained mute spectators for months. They did not run any security patrol in the forest area,” said a resident of Ghurkauli settlement preferring anonymity. “It is not possible to cut down and smuggle trees out of the forest without the support of the forest employees. The smugglers must have colluded with the forest officials and the office bearers of the forest users’ group.”
The Sub-division Forest Office in Janakinagar admits that it could not effectively patrol the forest area due to a lack of human resources.
“We failed to strengthen security in the forest area because we did not have the required manpower,” said Subas Sah, the assistant forest officer and chief at the office. According to him, his office seized two tractors loaded with illegally felled timber and detained five people in the past three months.
Meanwhile, Ram Biswash Raya, chairman of Janakinagar collaborative forest users’ group, claims that the local people cut down green trees on the pretext of collecting dry twigs for firewood.
“We are concerned about the rise in smuggling cases. Efforts are underway to identify the smugglers and bring them to book,” said Raya.