Timber depots: 10-inch-bench saw mills a menace

A section of timber depots and timber shops are virtual 'hubs of consuming points of illegal timber' in the State.
Representative image

Representative image


GUWAHATI: A section of timber depots and timber shops are virtual 'hubs of consuming points of illegal timber' in the State. Misusing the 10-inch-bench saw mills, such depots and shops run their illegal business in the State. In the past two years, 200 such illegal bench saw mills were dismantled in the State.

However, the State Forest department is yet to find the 'all-cure pill' to fix this menace. Timber depots and timber shops were allowed to install the 10-inch-bench saw mills mainly for the benefit of customers. The 10-inch-bench saw mills are a boon for customers as they can get timber or planks in tailor-made lengths in sync with their needs.

But the fact remains that a section of unscrupulous timber depots and timber shops has been engaged in taking undue benefits of such bench saw mills by sawing illegally-procured timber, often with the use of blades longer than the 10-inch ones. Once sawn, it is difficult for the Forest department to detect whether a timber is legal or illegal one.

According to a report from the State Forest department, the department is in a precarious situation in controlling such illegalities by timber depots and timber shops that have been permitted bench saw mills. According to the report, since such depots and shops are located in revenue areas they are comparatively in 'safer zones'. More often than not, Forest officials going to such timber depots and timber shops to carry out operations – but without any magistrate accompanying them – face unruly situations as the depot or shop owners are clever enough to create law-and-order problems.

The situation has been further complicated as such bench saw mills have sprung up everywhere in the State.

According to the report, the department is also handicapped due to shortage of manpower. To bring such erring timber depots and timber shops to their knees, the department needs adequate manpower to keep a close watch on the power consumption and its proportionate sawn timber. However due to the shortage of manpower, the department cannot take any such stringent measures to check the menace, the report said.

The report offers the following three suggestions: (i) The sale of bench saw mills should be brought under control and nobody should be allowed to purchase such saw mills without licence; (ii) A tough law should be enacted so as to speed up the cases against the erring saw mills that have been confiscated by authorized Forest personnel; (iii) Bringing the licensing of 10-inch-bench saw mills under the State-level licence committee for wood-based industries.

Sources also said that a section of customers also helps the illegal timber business to flourish by agreeing to buy timber without any cash memo just to get some concession in prices. So long this practice continues, unscrupulous saw mills will continue to sell their illegally-procured timber without any problems.

If such unscrupulous 10-inch-bench saw mills are allowed to operate according to their design, they will become 'hubs of consuming points of all illegal timber' in the State. Of course, the involvement of a section of Forest officials in the illegal business cannot be ruled out. In many instances, they are blamed for looking the other way when such illegalities take place right under their noses.

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