SIKARIDANGA, Dec 7 - Environment conservationists and Nature lovers of Udalguri district are hugely concerned at timber smugglers posing a grave threat to the Dhansiri-Sikaridanga forest, which was created by the Dhansiri-Sikaridanga Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC ) at Bhairabkunda. The forest, with more than 10 lakh trees in it, stretches over around 4,500-bigha land on the edge of the Assam-Arunachal foothills. It has lately become a soft target for a gang of inter-state timber smugglers.
�The illegal timber transporters face obstacles from our members whenever they try to use this forest as an alternative route when they cannot take their regular routes in the fear of wild elephants. Thus, they have now become aggressive against us and has even set fire to the forest,� said Pralay Daimary, president of the JFMC, while talking to this reporter. �On Thursday night, a similar kind of forest fire broke out to the south of our Maibra camp, and nearly 3,000 semi-mature trees were damaged in the fire,� said Tata Daimary, assistant secretary of the JFMC.
�Wild elephant herds regularly visit our forest as they are very much fond of the fresh leaves of the khoira variety of trees. Accordingly, we take care of the pachyderms so that not much damage is done to the forest. But, timber smugglers have turned out to be our major cause of concern,� added Daimary.
Meanwhile, Jayanta Kumar Das, Honorary Wildlife Warden of Udalguri, on Friday visited the site to take stock of the situation. Later, talking to this correspondent at the Maibra camp here, Das condemned the fire incidents and expressed sadness at the way the miscreants have been damaging the forest that has become a natural habitat of wild elephants, mitigating man-elephant conflict to a large extent.
Das appealed to the Deputy Commissioner of Udalguri and his counterpart in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh to storm into action against the unabated illegal tree felling along the border areas of both the districts.
It may be mentioned here that a group of 60-odd local youths had started plantation in the plot in 2014. By planting nearly 12 lakh saplings till date, they have transformed the barren rocky land into a lush green forest, thereby attracting Nature lovers from far and wide.