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Forests plundered for firewood

A Correspondent
Dhubri, April 19: A part of forest in BTAD and Dhubri Forest Division is being plundered for firewood under the very nose of forest officials. Large quantity of firewood are being transported to Golokganj, Dhubri illegally by the Dhubri-Kamakhya  and Rajyarani Express trains and other road routes. A large quantity of firewood was unloaded from the train at Golokganj Junction and then it was ferried to Dhubri, Gauripur and Bilasipara of Dhubri district and transported to Tufanganj and Cooch Behar of West Bengal through the inter-State check gate, a source in Golokganj said.
The source also informed that there are forest check gates at Chagolia and three more in other places – Makrijhara, Bogribari and Rupshi, but forest officials hardly seize the firewood, and these are sold in open weekly markets at Salbari, near Bogribari of BTAD and Fulkatari of Dhubri district, alleged Kulodhar Das, the director of Nature’s Friends, a nature-based non-government organization. “There is non-existence of forest department in this area. Two forest divisions are functioning in this area – Parbatjhara in BTAD and Dhubri – but DFOs and their officials and field staff of these two divisions are doing absolutely nothing to stop the illegal trade of firewood,” Das added. Another social activist of Gauripur, Arun Paul alleged that firewood was transported not just by train but also by trucks, buses, vans and auto-rickshaws.
“But despite the presence of field staff of the forest department posted at different ranges and railway police in all the stations ,they overlook the illegal trade for obvious reasons,” Paul alleged. After several reports in the media about this illegal trade through trains in Dhubri and Kokrajhar districts, former Assistant Security Commissioner of Alipurduar Railway Division, MC Medhi had taken drastic action in mid-2016, and illegal transportation then came down to a some extent but could not be totally stopped.
Moreover, last year the matter was also  brought to the notice of the then General Manager NFR, Chahtey Ram, at a press meet here at Dhubri Railway Station and he had assured action, but little so far has been done.

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Ankur Kalita