Illegal Burmese teak seized
Foresters of Baikunthapur forest division acted on a tip-off and seized illegal teak from a truck in Karatowa, a locality under Rajganj block of Jalpaiguri district on Sunday.
In the past one month, this is the fourth seizure of illegal timber in the region.
During these recoveries, eight trucks have been seized, a number of arrests have been made and Burmese teak worth Rs 2.4 crore in all, including Sunday’s seizure worth Rs 30 lakh, has been recovered.
Speaking on Sunday’s seizure, Hari Krishnan, the divisional forest officer of Baikunthapur, said: “Our team from Belakoba forest range seized a truck that was loaded with teak logs from Karatowa. The estimated price of the seized timber is Rs 30 lakh.”
Sources said foresters intercepted the truck on NH27 and took the vehicle to the range office.
During preliminary investigation, it was found that the vehicle was carrying the illegal consignment from the Northeast to Calcutta. Driver Md Eklas has been arrested.
“We have come to know that at least 50 people are associated with an organised timber smuggling racket active in the region. They use GPS to track vehicles used to ferry the illegal timber,” said a forester, adding that timber is brought from Myanmar to India through the Northeast and then smuggled to various parts of the country such as Calcutta, Delhi and Gurgaon by road.
“Most of the time, the timber is hidden under cement bags, bamboo or scrap. Later, it is smuggled out of India to different places in Middle East,” he added.
There is a huge demand in the Middle East for Burmese teak furniture and decorative items.
“The racket is using the Siliguri corridor to smuggle timber. We are on alert and putting in all efforts to thwart their plans,” a forester said.
In another incident, troops of the 70 battalion of Border Security Force (BSF) seized around 2.3 kilos of silver ornaments from the Milik-Sultanpur area of Malda district on Saturday that were supposed to be smuggled to the neighbouring country.