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Seized wood for school plea

Calcutta, Jan. 8: The Sunderbans development department is eyeing timber seized by the forest department from smugglers worth about Rs 20 lakh to make much-needed furniture for the schools and colleges in North and South 24-Parganas.

Sunderbans minister Kanti Ganguly is expected to write a letter soon to forest minister Jogesh Barman, seeking permission to use the timber seized from different parts of the mangrove delta.

The seized wood is lying in different forest range and beat offices at Rampur in Sajnekhali, and Baghna, Duttar, Pakhiralay of Gosaba in the Canning sub-division of South 24-Parganas and Jhingerkhali at Hingalgunj in North 24-Parganas.

Raidighi forest official Netai Saha said seized timber worth Rs 20 lakh has accumulated in their offices over the past six years. The wood is generally seized from either smugglers or trucks carrying timber in excess of the permitted amount. In addition to these, a large quantity of logs was lying at the Basanti police station in the Sunderbans.

Ganguly argued that the timber has remained unclaimed for long and if they were not put to use soon, they will begin rotting. “The forest department should release the wood for a noble purpose instead of allowing it to decay. I am sure the forest department, too, will be glad to have the spaces where they are lying dumped emptied,” he said.

“In many districts, there are several schools and colleges in dire need of furniture which the government cannot provide because of a paucity of funds. If the wood can be used, the students will be immensely benefited. I shall take up the matter with Barman and think it will be not be too difficult to get the necessary permission,” Ganguly said.

The minister said the transportation cost of the timber to different locations would be borne by his department.

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