GUWAHATI: Majority of timber shops in the city have literally become hubs of selling illegal timber due to lack of monitoring and vigilance by the State Forest department. These shops are selling timbers to majority of customers by issuing ordinary sales voucher or cash memo to evade any future scrutiny by the authorities concerned. Customers who demand sales voucher from these timber shops normally get the hand written or manual ones. None of these shops generate computerized vouchers for customers citing various lame excuses.
Many customers are also indirectly helping the illegal timber business to flourish by agreeing to purchase timber without any cash memo just to get some concessions in prices. Till this practice continues, unscrupulous timber shops will continue to sell their illegally-procured timber without any hassles.
Assam Forest Department Clueless About Illegal Timber Trade
"We normally give manual sales vouchers by mentioning details of timber. Such practice has been in practice. There is no clear-cut instruction on this issue from the Forest department," an owner of a leading timber shop under the Kamrup East Forest Division said.
On the other hand sources said many timber shops are misusing the 10-inch-bench saw mills to run their illegal business. The Forest department has allowed the timber shops to install saw mills to enable customers to get timber or planks in tailor-made lengths in sync with their needs. But the unscrupulous timber shops are taking undue advantage of such saw mills by sawing illegally procured timber with the use of blades longer than the 10-inch ones. Once sawn, it becomes extremely difficult for the Forest department and others to detect whether a timber is legal or illegal one.
A Forest department official while admitting that some shops are running their without any rule and regulation, said the shops fiddle with prices to sell illegal timber to customers. He said as per rules Maximum Retail Prices (MRP) for all timber items must be fixed by all shops.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Dr AM Singh told The Sentinel on the sideline a press conference here on Wednesday that his department would work out a mechanism to prevent the timber shops to run illegal business. He said the Forest department will consider making computerized or online issuing of sales vouchers to customers mandatory for timber shops.