The strike by forest officials in the district has affected day-to-day management of the forest areas in the district.
Taking advantage of the strike, mafia and locals are stealing timber and firewood from major forest zones of the district in Kalinili, Chhatar Dandi, Raju, Bender, Tandul, Khujen and Magur, sources said.
Besides, thousands of people can be seen coming out of forests with firewood everyday. In the neighbouring areas of Kantabanji, Lathore, Khariar, Tusra, Saintala and Khaprakhol people are carrying firewood on cycle openly as there is nobody to stop them. “As forest officials are on strike, there is nobody to keep a vigil. It’s easier for us to go inside the forest and collect firewood,” said a cyclist.
Though the district does not have a large forest area, its green cover is rich in terms of non-timber forest produce. The district has a forest cover of 1437 sq km which is about 16.1 per cent of the total area.
The forest employees said they were forced to resort to strike as the Government did not take any step despite their repeated requests. The locals alleged that the district is sustaining huge loss due to the strike. Stating that the forest cover raised by them for the last five years has been depleted, they called for an interim arrangement to save forest from destruction.