Around 200 Khayar trees cut down in Tripurasundari, DhadingSmugglers have cut down trees taking advantage of nationwide lockdown, locals say.
Smugglers have cut down around 200 Khayar (Acacia catechu) trees at Mata Jaleshwori Community Forest in Tripurasundari Rural Municipality, Dhading, taking advantage of the nationwide lockdown, according to locals.
The trees were cut down in collusion with the community forest representatives, says Rabindra Jung Baniya, a local. “We found 27 Khayar trees being prepared to be transported from the forest area. We confiscated the logs and informed the Division Forest Office in Dhading,” he said. “Wood smugglers are prowling the forest grounds taking advantage of the current lockdown.”
Locals allege that Shyam Baniya, chairman of the forest committee, and Ganesh Bahadur Adhikari, secretary of the forest committee, are working in cahoots with timber smugglers.
Eklal Nepali, the assistant forest officer, said they have seized 1,100 pieces (around 600 square feet) of Khayar from Kubhinde area. “We have recorded statements from Baniya and Adhikari. We are preparing to start legal action against them,” said Nepali.
The Division Forest Office seized Khayar logs in presence of Lokendra Thapa, ward chairman of Tripurasundari Rural Municipality Ward No. 3.
“The incident came into light due to a dispute between daily wage workers involved in carrying Khayar logs,” Thapa said.
The dispute arose when 22 workers, who were hired to transport the logs by a man identified as Gupta Bahadur Saru, blamed Indra Kandel, who had recently returned to the village from India, of being infected with the novel coronavirus.
According to the Division Forest Office, the law authorises it to repossess the community forest by scrapping the registration of the community users’ group for cutting down the trees against the regulations.
Meanwhile, in Dang, the Division Forest Office arrested 10 individuals on charge of smuggling woods in various parts of the district during the lockdown period.
Dipak Gyawali, the Division Forest Officer, said the patrol groups formed by the forest office also impounded three tractors used in carrying stolen woods. “Ten individuals were caught red-handed while felling trees in the forests,” said Gyawali, adding that smugglers are taking advantage of the lockdown and cutting down trees in the forests. The Division Forest Office has intensified patrol in the buffer zone area of Banke National Park in Tulasipur, Dharapani, Rajje, Rampur, among various forest areas of late, said Gyawali.
(Durgalal KC in Dang contributed reporting)