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NGO alleges Forest officials hand in smuggling

By Biplab Kr Dey

TURA, March 13 - Centre for Environment Protection and Rural Development (CEPARD) has alleged the involvement of officials of GHADC Forest range in timber smuggling.

According to CEPARD, they conducted a sting operation to uncover the nefarious activities of the Forest officials. �We spoke to one of the timber smugglers who told us of the modus operandi which proves the people meant to stop forest destruction as the ones encouraging the practice. The huge number of saw mills that have mushroomed here are testimony to this fact�, said SR Sangma, a CEPARD member.

�The smuggler told us how the Forest official informed them before hand of routes to take that were safe and even ensuring they were free to carry out the illegal trade�, said Sangma.

More than 30 illegal saw mills are currently operating along the Assam-Meghalaya border. �On an average there are more than 10-15 trucks of illegal timber being moved through the region�, added Sangma.

The Ngo questioned as to how the GHADC Range Forest officer has not been transferred for the last twenty years.

The timber is being smuggled through Rongkon, Mangchim, Gomaijhora and Balachanda with the main base of timber smuggling being Rom, all of which fall under West Garo Hills. The other route of smuggling is Jengjal, Damal Asim, Watregre and Dadengre.

The NGO further urged the State Government to take steps so that illegal timber smuggling and felling of trees is prevented at all costs. Culprits indulging in these acts, including State or GHADC officials should be taken to task, added SR Sangma.

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