Workshop tips to fight forest crime

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  • Published 1.04.06

Alipurduar, March 31: The forest department has organised a training programme for 105 women who were allegedly involved in illegal felling of trees.

The department?s move is aimed at making these women self-sufficient and in the process keeping them away from illegal activities.

The programme, which was initiated this morning at the Gourikon beat campus of the Baikunthapur forest division, will have experts to provide training in sewing and the maintenance of farms for poultry and goats.

Divisional forest officer of Baikunthapur Ashish Samanta said: ?It cannot be denied that illegal felling of trees was rampant in this division at one time. Recently, however, with help from local gram panchayat members, we have been able to involve people in the protection of forests and felling has been controlled to a large extent.?

The DFO said the felling of trees was prompted by the lack of other sources of income among the forest villagers.

?In the workshop, experts will impart training to women who are part of various forest protection committees. At the end of the workshop, sewing machines will be distributed among women, while machines to manufacture plates with sal leaves will be installed in Salugara. Our department is spending more than Rs 5 lakh to conduct the workshop.?

In the last five years, this forest division has witnessed rampant felling of trees, and nearly 80 per cent of forest cover was severely damaged. Most of the illegal woodcutters were women staying in Baikunthapur, Bodaganj, Gourikon and Rangadam forest villages of the division.

When the department planted new trees, they decided to involve these women in the various forest protection committees under the joint forest management scheme. Observers feel the current workshop will help to cement ties with the department and forest villagers.