GUWAHATI: The wanton destruction of forest resources in the State can never be brought to a grinding halt unless there are all-out efforts from all stakeholders in line with the ongoing drive against drugs. The illegal sawmills being run in many sars in lower Assam allegedly browbeating forest personnel reeks of the lack of coordinated efforts among the Forest personnel, the police and the district administrations.
The Forest Department carries out various activities to increase forest cover in the State where destructive activities like illegal tree felling and carrying sand, boulder, gravel etc are also going on unabated.
According to State Forest and Environment Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, in the past three years, the Department seized around 2,500 vehicles carrying forest materials illegally leading to the arrest of 250 people, besides the seizure of 3,000 illegal bend saw machines. "Besides acting tough against all illegal activities with forest resources in the State, we've also planted ten crore saplings in the past three years. However, all such activities seem to be inadequate to get the desired result. We're making all those involved in such illegal activities know the consequences of the destruction of fauna and flora. Until and unless there is unstinted support from the public against the destruction of forest resources, the situation is not going to improve," the Minister said.
Inaugurating a nature learning sub-centre at Nellie in Morigaon district on Saturday, Suklabaidya said, "The wanton destruction of forest and the killing of wildlife taking place across the globe must be brought to a grinding halt as our future and that of the coming generation hinges on the environment. So it is our bounden duty to protect the ecosystem for our survival."
Delving deep into the problem, official sources said that though there are laws to check activities like illegal carrying of bounders, sand and other forest resources, the laws cannot be enforced to the fullest due to lack of adequate resources. Citing a few examples like the mushroom growth of bend sawmills (machines) in the sars in lower Assam where timber is brought from Goalpara, Kamrup and Boko forest reserves and sawn in broad daylight, a source in the Department said, "Carrying out operations in such sars by forest personnel is fraught with the risk of counter-attacks from the organized gangs. We need unstinted support from the police and district administrations, besides the public. Unless and until there are all-out operations with a missionary zeal against such gangs in line with the current drive against drugs, the wanton destruction of forest cannot be brought to a grinding halt in the State.
"In the past three months in central Assam, around 32 timber-laden vehicles and 90 illegal minor mineral-laden trucks were seized."