Siliguri, Sept. 4: Army authorities have started an internal inquiry to ascertain the extent of involvement of army personnel in the tree-cutting episode in Salugara, near here, on August 12.
A senior army officer and station commander of the Sevoke Cantonment, adjacent to Salugara, today said: “The army as an organisation is not and cannot be involved in such incidents.” Forest department officials had alleged that some army jawans had aided timber thieves in cutting a sal tree.
A forest department team came across the felling and, on giving chase, two of the thieves were apprehended. They reportedly said they were hired by army personnel to do the job. The army had then denied involvement.
The station commander, who was away when the incident occurred, explained today that the earlier practice of officers purchasing some wood from the region on transfer had stopped long ago. “The situation has changed now. If any personnel of any rank is found to be involved, action will be taken against him.”
He referred to the incident in which two army jawans who were caught ferrying smuggled wood near Chopra about a year back. “They have been suspended and discharged from service,” he said. “In fact, the army is now involved in afforestation. We have planted about 10,000 saplings in the Sevoke station area last month during the van mahotsav,” he said.
The army has, however, given permission to Oil India Ltd., whose chief engineer had approached them for the felling of trees along the Numaligarh-Rangapani pipeline, a section of which passes through the cantonment.