Timber smuggling in Meghalaya; GHADC finally steps in


TURA | OCT 17, 2019:

In an effort to stop illegal smuggling of timber, the Forest department of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) has finally decided to take up steps to tackle menace of timber smuggling by dismantling and seizing illegal timber mills in the village of Chibinang in West Garo Hills (WGH).

The raids by the staff of the GHADC Phulbari forest department along with the assistance of the Phulbari police station personnel leading to two saw mills being dismantled in the area while the others managed to lift their sawing machines before authorities could even get to the mills.

The two mills, whose materials as well as logs were seized have been identified to be in the villages of Gandhimari and Tochongre.

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Today's raids came about after reports of huge number of illegal timber vehicles being transported through the Chibinang – Dadengrre road, some of which happened even during the day. Further NGOs had even threatened to file a PIL in the High Court over the continued destruction of forests as well as the neglect shown by authorities in controlling the menace.

"We began the raid early morning. However by the time we moved to the next illegal saw mill they had already dismantled their machines and carried them off. We could not get many of them due to the time taken to complete one raid," said a GHADC forest source from Phulbari.

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Meanwhile the source further added that after news travelled of their raids, even remote villages had removed the machines from the mills and in some cases, even the illegal timber. There were also many cut logs lying on the routes but it could not be carried back as there was no one to take 'zimma' of the timber.

Praising the efforts of the police and forest authorities, president of CEPARD, SR Sangma said, "This is the way to go and there should now be no let up in such raids. Such raids need to happen on regular basis for it to make a difference. We thank the GHADC and police for their efforts and hope that this is the beginning of the fight to save our lungs."