Yet again, the forest authorities have seemingly turned a blind eye to illegal felling of trees causing a threat to the environment in parts of Garo Hills, with Dangkong Forest Reserve under the Chimunbangshi Reserve in NGH being the latest victim.
The area falls under the Chimunbangshi Reserve in North Garo Hills’ Dainadubi.
Despite the forest beat office being located adjacent to about 100 meters from the reserve, the forest which was once a reserve is now left with a tree stump collection.
The forest officials when asked, replied as to they did not hear any sort of suspicious activity when apparently the trees were cut. However, they were able to recover the cut tree before the smugglers were able to make away with it.
Expressing their plight, the forest official said that it becomes very difficult to tackle the menace of timber smuggling due to lack of men power as of which if the officials take one direction, the smugglers use the other way round.
Further, the official also added that state forests are literally unarmed in the face of smugglers with sophisticated weapons and unscrupulous locals have been known to be not only a part of these gangs but are active in cutting down these high-value trees.
According to officials, there is only one range forest officer and a forester to look after more than 23 sq km of forests in the Dainadubi area.
The situation is exacerbated sometimes due to unofficial leaves taken by forest employees leaving things at the mercy of smugglers, who mainly work through the night to denude forests.
A local resident of Dainadubi said that the same forest product does not even have to get on to the main road in Meghalaya. They mainly use side roads where checking is minimal and minimum kickbacks, if any, have to be paid. They generally have very good connections.
The problem, felt a few who had gathered, was the lack of conviction of the state government which percolated down to all the officers.
Another resident added that it mostly seems like a money-making venture being a part of this department and there can be no other explanation for the wanton destruction being allowed across Garo Hills, mostly in state forest reserves.
Updated by: News Sources 2019-09-19 3:32 PM