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Palamau search yields sal logs

- Seizure ahead of inspection by national tiger team

Ranchi, June 17: Palamau Tiger Reserve authorities today seized illegal sal logs and kendu leaves from abandoned houses in two of its core ranges ahead of a visit by a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) team.

According to the officials, a squad of 80 staff and officials launched a crackdown on sal smugglers in Chipadohar and Betla ranges yesterday. Today, the team got cracking around 4am and made the seizures for over 10 hours.

“Altogether, we succeeded in seizing around 500 gunny bags filled with kendu leaves, six sal logs and one bija log from abandoned houses in different locations under the two ranges. Majority of the haul was from Kuchila village,” said divisional forest officer of the reserve’s core area Premjit Anand.

However, no arrest could be made with the forest officials claiming that the smugglers might have got a whiff of the raids.

“Around a week ago, similar raids by Latehar division yielded a huge number of prohibited items from a school. Our counterparts had made similar complaints against the headmaster of that school. Sensing that such activities might be on in areas under our division, we planned a two-day raid to search schools. However, the latest recoveries were made from abandoned huts located near schools. These items were illegally collected by local people and were supposed to be sold to kendu leaves traders,” Anand said.

According to the Supreme Court’s orders, forest dwellers have the right to collect forest produces like kendu leaves that are used to make bidis but the same is banned within the sanctuary area.

On the timing of the raid before the inspection by the NTCA team that is expected to arrive tonight, PTR officials called it a mere coincidence. About the team’s visit, an official said the formal inspection would begin from tomorrow.

“The nature of the visit will be known only after their arrival. All we know at the moment is that a two-member team is coming by tonight,” said the source.

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