The Sentinel IMPACT
BY Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 17: A day after The Sentinel reported about a clandestine tree-felling racket going on in West Kamrup Forest Division, South Kamrup deputy commissioner Rajib Prakash Barua swung into action, apprehending a couple of miscreants who were smuggling trees out of the Jambari forest.
The DC has also summoned the district forest officials, seeking a report on the mece and steps taken to prevent it.
Official sources said that after holding a meeting with senior forest officials of the division, the DC went for a site inspection with the DFO.
"The DC himself caught miscreants who were ferrying logs out of the forest. They were seized immediately. Even in the evening, a few people smuggling timber were bbed in the area," the sources said.
"The Forest officials have been asked to maintain round-the-clock vigil and give a report on daily basis," the DC later told The Sentinel.
Local villagers had recently unearthed a clandestine tree-felling racket at Bamunigaon in West Kamrup Forest Division, leading to the suspension of three forest staff.
An inquiry team headed by Chief Conservator of Forest SN Singh, which visited the Bamunigaon range on Sunday, had found 39 tree stumps. Officials admitted that from the stumps, it appeared the trees were cut recently.
Sources said about 59 sal trees were chopped off and smuggled out of the forest on the night of May 13. More than half of the felled trees were taken out of the forest, and some left behind.
The CCF-led probe team also seized 53 sections (logs) of felled trees from the area.
Cutting of trees has been a daily affair in the West Kamrup Forest Division, with no prevention measures coming from the Forest department. Sources said the trees are even smuggled to Bangladesh.
It is alleged that a powerful timber mafia-forest officer nexus is at work in the area.
According to the latest Forest Survey of India report, the forest cover in Assam has declined by 48 sq km between 2013 and 2015.