A community forest in Palpa smuggling timber during lockdownThree persons, including chairman of the forest consumers’ committee, have been arrested for investigation.
A community forest in Tansen Municipality, Palpa, has been illegally smuggling timber in the district of late.
Taking advantage of the nationwide lockdown, the consumers committee of Tilahar Sakhar Salleri Community Forest in Tansen-11 has logged nearly threefold more trees than it was permitted to and smuggled the logs to a timber trader. Security personnel detained Ganesh Prasad Ghimire and Amar Bahadur Pun, the chairman and treasurer of the forest consumers’ committee respectively, on Tuesday for investigation. Trader Nabin Ghimire was also nabbed in connection with the incident.
“The accused trio have been kept in custody at the District Police Office for investigation,” said Arjun Prasad Chapagain, an investigation officer at the forest office. According to him, preliminary investigation shows that the committee cut down 3,526 cubic feet more timber than it got permission from the forest office.
“A case will be filed against them at the district court through the office of the district's attorney. They will be punished as per the Forest Act 2019,” said Chapagain.
Yamlal Pokharel, a ranger at the forest office, said that the division forest office had permitted the community forest to cut down 2,074 cubic feet timber, but the community forest was found logging 5,600 cubic feet timber, he added.
Police suspect that the forest consumers’ committee officials worked in collusion with the timber traders by taking advantage of the poor security at the forest area during the lockdown. According to the local people, the forest consumers’ committee had illegally cut down trees last year as well, but the authorities concerned were unaware about it.
Besides Tilahar Sakhar Salleri Community Forest, many such forests in the district are illegally logging trees for smuggling purposes, locals say.