Smuggling of teakwood on rise as Forest Divisional Officer posts lie vacant in Telangana

Cases under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act were also filed, which led to a significant reduction in smuggling activities.
Teakwood (Photo | EPS)
Teakwood (Photo | EPS)

ADILABAD: Teakwood smuggling has been a major issue in the Kawal Tiger Reserve over the past three years. The problem has been partially controlled through joint efforts by the police and forest officials. However, the recent spike in smuggling incidents is a cause of concern, primarily due to the vacancies in divisional-level officer positions, which has led to a lack of effective monitoring.

Back in 2019, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao issued a serious warning against teakwood smuggling. Following this, joint raids conducted by the police and forest officials resulted in the seizure of teakwood worth lakhs of rupees in the erstwhile Adilabad district. Cases under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act were also filed, which led to a significant reduction in smuggling activities.

However, the situation seems to have worsened in recent times. This month alone, there have been two incidents of vehicles being seized in the Jannaram division, transporting teakwood illegally. These incidents point towards the negligence of higher officials, as some FDO (Forest Divisional Officer) posts remain vacant, said locals.

Notably, the shortage of field officers has resulted in an increase in smuggling cases. The Jannaram FDO is on extended leave, the Utnoor FDO post has been vacant for several months, and the Khanapur FDO is also absent, with the respective in-charges struggling to manage their responsibilities effectively. Moreover, the shortage of ground-level staff in the Kawal Tiger Reserve has further exacerbated the situation. Despite attempts to contact the Field Director CP Vinod Kumar for clarification, there has been no response to phone calls from TNIE.

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