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Timber smuggling continues unabeted in Garo Hills

 

TURA: Illegal felling and smuggling of timber from forests and A’king lands in the Garo Hills continues despite alleged ‘vigilance’ by forest department teams from both the state and the Garo Hills autonomous District Council.

The situation has come to such a pass that timber is now being shipped off in mini trucks even in broad daylight from Garo Hills to the illegal saw mills located just across the inter-state border in neighbouring Assam.

On Friday, a Mahindra mini truck pik up vehicle (ML08 C 7573) loaded with freshly felled timber was speeding through the Ampati-Betasing road when it collided head on with two persons on a motorcycle at Gildinggre village under Betasing police outpost causing serious injuries to the motorcylists who had to be rushed to Goalpara for a CT scan of their internal injuries.

The driver and other occupants of the vehicle fled from the scene leaving behind the timber consignment on the side of the road.

The A’chik Youth Council (AYC) organisation has questioned as to how such rampant smuggling of timber can take place right under the nose of authorities in broad daylight.

“Timber is being exported in daytime and police department and forest department officials are not giving any interest to halt this menace. How can timber be exported in broad daylight and why was no vehicle detained by police even though the vehicles are passing through their areas?” questioned S D Sangma, President of AYC.

He revealed that the illegal trade is continuing because even locals are getting involved for the lure of quick money and unless authorities clamp down Garo Hills could soon turn barren.

“Garo Hills Autonomous District Council has to strengthen its forest department with sufficient equipment to tackle this menace and awareness programmes on the dangers posed by deforrestation must be conducted in the villages,” stated the AYC.

In the last one week, reports and complaints are galore about illegal timber being transported through various routes.

One such route is the Phulbari and Dadenggre to Chibinang route through which illegal timber is regularly being exported to Assam.

Another area which timber smugglers are now targetting for fewlling is the Rongsak, Rongbang Da’re and the foothills of Nokrek national park. Travellers from Tura heading to Rongsak on Thursday reported sighting a Mahindra Pik Up and a mini truck fully loaded with timber, covered in plastic sheets, heading towards Asanang and Rongram at the peak of noon.

“To be able to pass through either Rongram, Jengjal or Dadenggre police stations and forest check points means something is amiss,” said an eye witness to the shipment of the illegal timber from the old Tura to Williamnagar PWD road.

 

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