Illegal Sawmills Turn Nocturnal to Evade Crackdown in Meghalaya

Illegal Sawmills Turn Nocturnal to Evade Crackdown in Meghalaya

A Reporter

SHILLONG: Illegal sawmill owners from the village of Phersanakdi under Phulbari police station in West Garo Hills, have now taken to operating their machines through the night before dismantling them by early morning in an effort to beat the crackdown by the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) and the State Forest department.

The matter of the illegal sawmills operating through the night became evident after some locals took photos of the operations a few days back.

The few sawmills of the area came into the limelight after a controversy erupted when local MDC, Sofiur Rehman threatened GHADC employees over the shutting down of the mills. Later the GHADC filed an FIR against the MDC.

The sawmills in question however began operating once again, just a few days after the crackdown, which however was seen as a tug of war between the MDC and the authorities. In order to not add further fuel to fire, the illegal mills stopped operating during the day and began operating during night time.

“We have received information of their nocturnal operations and are trying to coordinate on what needs to be done. These mills dismantle all their instruments and take them back which has been acting as an impediment. Hopefully the crackdown even during the night will happen soon,” said a GHADC forest official on the condition of anonymity.

This method by the illegal mills comes in the wake of boats being used near the Chibinang area to transport timber to mills that have now moved to the borders areas of Assam and Meghalaya, making crackdowns against them even more difficult.

Further information of over 20 mills being completely operational in the Tikrikilla area has added further headache to the already overburdened Forest departments of the State and the GHADC.

“The State Government has to come up with a task force to weed out the destruction of our forests. All those responsible for it cannot be let off so easily. We demand the strictest laws to be enacted against them,” asserted president of CEPARD, SR Sangma.

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