The staff of Rongjuli range forest office adjacent to the border of Kamrup (Rural) district under the district forest office, Goalpara, has been “working overtime” to protecting its forest property like timbers, stones, etc., from timber smugglers operating in the forest area.
In the last two years, the office in its drive against the forest smugglers has reportedly seized as many as 60 stone and timber carrying vehicles with property worth Rs 2 crore, six buffalo and horse carts, six sand collecting machines and closed down 12 illegal saw mills, including two on Friday.
“Our area is in full abundance of valuable trees like sal, teak, etc., besides stones. The timber smugglers always try to take advantage of our skeleton staff and the multitasking that we have to do with the limited personnel at our disposal. Despite a lot of challenges, we have seized seven vehicles during the month of August and two vehicles in the month of September which were caught illegally transporting forest materials,” said Balen Kumar Das, Ranger of Rongjuli range forest office who is leading from the front despite all odds.
“We try our best to protect the forest resources which rightfully belongs to the people of Assam and while doing that we face challenges every day” remarked Das, adding, “Our team was openly attacked by the miscreants during an operation at Kheropara under Dhupdhara Police Station in April last year. I myself got injured besides two of my staff.”
Rongjuli is the only range in the district which has successfully evicted encroachers from 60 hectares of forest land falling under the Dhupdhara Police Station. On Wednesday, a team led by Das carried out an operation against illegal timber smugglers at Kahibari and apprehended two smugglers in the process. The duo has been identified as Nazir Ali and Shah Alom Badshah of Baghbar char under Barpeta district. The duo were produced in Goalpara Court and sent behind bars.
The forest team also seized a motorcycle bearing the registration No – AS-O1AV-1576 – used in the smuggling business and large number of sal and teak logs. Apart from dealing with timber smugglers, the Ronguli Range office personnel also have to keep a hawk eye on any kind of possible attack by wild animals in the villages nearby.
“Every year, at least two lives are lost in my area due to attack by wild tuskers. Even today, we had to fire two rounds of bullets to chase away a herd of wild elephants from a remote village in Amzonga Kuchdhowa,” said Das on Thursday. Das and his team’s “honesty and sincerity” has been highly applauded by the people of Rongjuli, Daranggiri and Dhupdhara – especially his tenacity to protect the range come what may.