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Eye on timber trade

Siliguri, June 11: The forest department has decided to intensify checks on timber used as building material to curb illegal timber trade in Siliguri and its neighbourhood.

Baikunthapur divisional forest officer (DFO), A.K. Samanta today said the department would submit a proposal to the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) to help the department carry out its plan.

“We will ask SMC to furnish the names and addresses of the new buildings coming up in its area, so that we can inspect the premises and verify whether the timber used for construction was procured legally or not,” Samanta said.

Admitting that a large amount of illegal timber was being used in the booming real estate business in Siliguri, the DFO said: “While many people use timber purchased from unscrupulous businessmen out of ignorance of the laws, there are a good number who who deliberately use illegal timber to cut costs.”

Last night, forest guards seized timber worth Rs 30,000 from two persons who were arrested near Adabari forest beat. The timber was reportedly being brought from the Mongpong forest area.

Samanta said the forest department, based on the information provided by the SMC, will raid the premises and ensure that the builders have with them valid documents of purchase, failing which they will be subjected to legal action. He said the department would take up measures to create more awareness among the people.

Siliguri Municipal Corporation mayor Bikash Ghosh said the corporation was willing to help the department. “We would like to extend cooperation to them as much as we can, just as we do with other departments, like the income tax,” he said.

In addition to increasing raids, the department will be intensifying patrolling in some sensitive areas of the forest.

“Apart from our own forest guards, we also seek the help of members of the forest protection committees, formed of people residing in the forest fringe villages. We plan to increase their participation so as to carry out forest conservation measures in a more effective manner,” Samanta added.

Ambari, Adabari, Fifth Mile and Fourth Mile are some of the areas where heavy felling of trees was noticed, a senior forest official said.

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