The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sals felled, apathy slur on foresters

Jaigaon, Sept. 28: Mature sal trees on forest land within a distance of 1km from the Diana range office are being gradually killed, felled and taken away by the timber mafia, local people have alleged.

Sankar Baraik, the Nagrakata block Congress president, said in the past one year, at least 20 sal trees had been chopped down and taken away and the forest officers had been indifferent.

“The mafia uses saws to bore into the base of the tree, causing it to die after a few months. Then, it is cut and taken away. Each tree thus smuggled out was worth at least Rs 1 lakh,” said Baraik. He added that there were about 50 to 60 tall sal trees growing along the left side of the road which connects Loksan More to the Carron tea garden near Nagrakata.

Baraik also said across the road, the management of the Chianmari tea estate had a sal plantation which the timber mafia had never dared touch. “We have two guards to protect the trees and we have not faced any problems from any quarter so far,” said D. Parmar, the manager of Chiangmari estate.

Bariak said there were at least 10 sal trees, which had their roots mutilated and may fall anytime, on the forestland. “The trunks of these trees are at least four feet in diameter and 50 feet in height.”

The divisional forest officer, Kalyan Das, said there were no incursions by the timber mafia into the forestland.

“There are six to seven dead sal trees, the bases of which were hacked away by some people. The trees have been dead for over a year and we are well aware of it,” said Das. He added that those trees would be felled and taken to the forest department’s timber depot once he got permission from the higher ups.

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