Koraput, March 6 (LocalWire): The timber smugglers openly operate in Boipariguda forest range in Koraput district due to the apathy of forest officials, local villagers alleged.
The forest cover in Nuaguda and Dharmagad is fast vanishing due to large scale felling of trees, said a local resident, requesting anonymity.
He alleged that the illegal activities are the result of a nexus between forest officials and timber mafia.
“Rare trees like sal, piasal, siris and teak are felled and smuggled in the absence of a tight vigil. Officials are aware of it and take a hefty cut of the profit from the mafia,” alleged another villager in Minarbali.
Nuaguda forest spreads across 400 hectares, and has sal and piasal trees that are 50-60 years old.
Officials cite Maoists presence to skip duty in order to help timber mafia to plunder forests, he said.
“Tribals in Nuaguda earn a living by selling minor forest produce. If the timber mafia is not stopped, it will directly affect the tribal economy,” said Kuni Pujari, a villager from Doraguda.
Forest officials, though, claim that raids are conducted from time to time based on intelligence inputs.
“It’s not that action is not being taken against illegal felling at Nuaguda and Dharmagad. Due to shortage of field staff sometime we face problem. Yet we are taking necessary steps to stop timber smuggling. Over 15 timber smugglers have been arrested in last few weeks from the area,” said a senior forest official from Jeypore forest division.