Timber Smuggling in Border Forest Still on - The New Indian Express

Timber Smuggling in Border Forest Still on

Published: 07th December 2013 09:12 AM

Last Updated: 07th December 2013 09:12 AM

Dense forest along Odisha-Jharkhand border is under threat from the timber mafia. If sources are to be believed, village roads in Maoist-hit Bisra block and the railway route are being used by them for transportation of the timber.

Bisra block shares common forest border with the vast Saranda forest in Jharkhand territory. Forest and police officials of West Singhbum in Jharkhand and their Rourkela counterparts have turned blind eye towards the activities of timber mafia as they were busy dealing with Maoist problem in Saranda.

A group of 30 to 40 timber smugglers spread over Bisra and adjacent Nuagaon blocks continue to flourish in the illegal business by allegedly greasing the palms of local officials and railway crew. Villagers are engaged to fell trees in Bisra’s Chirubera forest and Saranda. The logs are then clandestinely stored in Bisra’s Kokerama, Jharbera, Luaram, Pital and Tulsikani villages.

Sources said as the stocks pile up, trucks come from Jharkhand and in the dead of night smuggle the timber via Dareikela, Teterkela, Bagdega, Relhaposh, Barilepta and Sorda to other side of the border.

At times, timber is loaded in a Hatia-bound passenger train at Bishpur. Some other trains are also used.

Though allegations have been made and investigations initiated, those have not yielded much result.

 Last week, two persons were arrested and a truck laden with sleepers worth over ` 6 lakh seized during a surprise raid. The Rourkela Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjeet Kumar claimed that an inter-State racket is involved in the illegal trade.

On the racket’s modus operandi, Kumar said the timber is sold in depots at border pockets in Simdega, Gumla, West Singhbhum and Ranchi districts. There ‘hammer mark’ is stamped to legalise the timber and sent back to Odisha.

This apart, people use bicycles to carry sleepers and planks to Rourkela city’s Jagda and Jhirpani via Kukuda level-crossing. On Sunday night, unclaimed timber worth above `50,000 stacked near Gopabandhupali was seized.

So far this year, the Rourkela division has recovered sleepers, logs and firewood worth around `50 lakh, 10 motorised vehicles and 25 non-motorised vehicles and arrested 36 persons.

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