Rampant tree felling in Rani, timber mafia-foresters nexus alleged
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 7: Organized gangs have been felling trees recklessly in Kulshi reserve forest, threatening the heritage teak plantation there.
Locals villagers said there has been a spate of incidents of tree smuggling in the forest, but foresters and police are sitting idle despite being given complaints.
During the last fortnight, at least eight teak trees were axed and smuggled out of the forest. All the incidents were reported in and around the Inspection Bungalow.
People who saw smugglers cutting the trees reported the matter to the forest ranger and beat officer, but they allegedly did not act. The only thing the Forest department did was to file an FIR with the police.
Incidents of tree felling have also been reported from the Rani forest in East Kamrup Forest division.
Advisor of the Kamrup District Rabha Students Union Pradeep Rabha said tree smuggling at Kulshi has been on the rise of late, and much of it is due to the alleged negligence of the ranger and beat officer. "We do not believe such illegal activities are possible unless there is a nexus between the timber mafia and forest officials," he said.
Rabha's organization is planning to organize awareness camps in the villages adjacent to the Kulshi forest. "In fact, such camps should be organized by the Forest department. But as it is not forthcoming, we are doing it ourselves," Rabha said.
Kulshi forest was given reserve forest status way back in 1873 just after commercial teak plantation began in the preceding year. In 1872, the first commercial plantation of teak (tecto grandis) was started in 8 acres of land in the lower slopes of Kulshi hills.
The teak species was brought from Burma after which Kulshi was granted reserve forest status with a total area of 1,855.19 hectares.
Teakwood is particularly valued for its durability and water resistance and used for boat building, exterior construction, veneer, furniture, carving, turnings and other small wood work. The 1872 pioneering plantation was however cleared and the site was replanted in 1958. The river Kulshi which flows through the forest is famous for river dolphins.