Large-scale illegal felling of valuable trees and alleged smuggling of timber continues unabated in Upper Dehing reserve forest allegedly in connivance with forest officials causing irreparable loss to the already depleting green cover of the state.
Located at upper Assam’s Tinsukia district, Upper Dehing reserve forest which spread over 729.3079 square kilometre of the district, is the home to various rare species.
An alleged unholy nexus between the timber smugglers and forest official put the Upper Dehing reserve forest of Digboi forest division under threat.
The forest which had rich vegetation a few years ago, now become a happy hunting ground for the unscrupulous timber smugglers. Illegal felling of tress is allegedly rampant at Lakhipathar and Margherita west range of the reserve forest.
Sources alleged Hollong tree, Tita Sopa, Mekai and Hollock tree are targeted by the timber mafia by using machine in broad day light and supply them to the sawmills in upper Assam.
According to sources, the timber smuggler entered in the forest in broad daylight and chopped off the valuable tress using machine. Locals said forest department turning into a blind eye despite local environment activists brought the issue to the notice of the concerned forest officials.
Bijay Gogoi, president of Evergreen Foundation, a local environment NGO said, “Despite several pleas to the forest department about the illegal smuggling of the tress, they didn’t bother to take action against the unscrupulous timber mafia. After slashing the tress they transported the logs by using elephant and truck and supply them to the sawmills. This smuggling has been going on for last several years under the nose of district administration.”
He said preservation and conservation should be the top priority of the forest department but is seems for forest officials here it’s not a matter of concern here.
Trucks loaded with timber passed through the roads during night under the nose of the administration. On May 16, 2018, two timber laden trucks were caught at Digboi but later they were freed.
“We demand an enquiry on the illegal supply of timber to the sawmills of upper Assam. Many sawmills are hand in gloves with the timber smuggler and running their business in collusion with forest officials . Earlier, we had informed the Principal Conservator of Forest about the felling of trees but no action has been taken so far,’’ Gogoi alleged.