Phulbari NGOs apprehend illegal timber, call for stringent checks

Tura, Jun 25: A vigilant group of NGO members from the town of Phulbari were able to apprehend a vehicle carrying illegal timber late last evening near the village of Machangpani, before handing over the same to the police and later the state forest department for further action.

The NGOs, including the GSU, GSMC and AYMBS were informed of the movement of a timber vehicle last evening and when they spotted two vehicles, immediately stopped it. Upon a check, the NGO members found it to be full of freshly sawed trees.

The two vehicles carrying the illegal timber bore registration numbers ML 08G 0524 and ML 08C 1223. The local police of Phulbari in WGH were informed of the matter after which the vehicle was seized and an FIR filed by the NGOs in the case. Police later took  custody of the vehicles and its belongings.

“We handed over the vehicle to the police and have contacted the state forest department so that action can be taken against them. This has become a repetitive exercise and unless strong action is taken, will not be stopped,” said GSU vice president, Peter A Sangma.

The NGOs have expressed their unhappiness with the lack of checks that has been allowing unscrupulous smugglers to literally wipe out forests around Phulbari and asked as to how it was possible if all roads were being monitored by the forest departments of GHADC and the state.

“Just look at the disastrous amount of rains that have hit Garo Hills and led to the deaths of more than 14 persons, just in the past month. Climate change is already affecting us and even now the people responsible for manning our forests are not serious. At this rate, Garo Hills is soon going to be barren,” said Nikseng Sangma, president of AYMBS.

Jack A Sangma, of the GSMC contended that timber smuggling has been on the rise in the area since the past decade mainly due to the lax attitude of those responsible to check these acts.

“There are so many timber mills in the plain belt with all these operating right under the noses of authorities. We understand that there may be a lack of manpower, but these can always be stopped while it is being transported. If the system had not been so lax, the entire menace can be nipped in the bud. However, we are witnessing just the opposite,” he said while asking for seriousness from all concerned in ensuring the forests were protected.

 

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