Bhadrak: Timber trade has been thriving in various parts of Bhadrak district while the forest department authorities have failed to curb the illegal trade. Various quarters have alleged an unholy nexus between timber merchants with forest officials leading to a spurt in the illegal business.
Timber depots and sawmills are operating in the town day in, day out. Such depots have mushroomed across the district, thanks to the apathy of forest department officials.
In a related development, Purunabazar police seized a pick up van laden with timber Tuesday at Baliarada.
However, it is alleged vans and vehicles have been transporting timber to the neighbourhood for profit.
Bhadrak ranger Gadadhar Panda said the department has not seized any vehicle carrying timber or raided any godown for the past five months.
Purunabazar police have seized three vehicles for transporting timbers illegally in the past five months. There are over 10 sawmills and 100 timber depots in the town.
Locals have demanded a thorough probe into the murky affair. According to a rough estimate, at least 20 vehicles are engaged in transporting logs to sawmills on a daily basis amid allegations that forest officials are taking some cuts from timber traders.
Timber business is also rampant in Basudevpur where the locals had opposed felling of trees in a community forest and torched a tractor over the issue.
Former IIC of Basudevpur Bulu Munda was caught by Vigilance officials while he was receiving bribe from a timber mafioso. An ASI was suspended on similar charges.
Recently, forest officials are alleged to have freed a timber-laden truck after taking some bribe. A former forest ranger was caught and jailed for receiving bribe from the smugglers. Such cases point to official-timber mafia nexus in the district.