Parjang: Costly timbers gathered together by smugglers can be seen lying in a forest near Suratnali village under Dihadol section of Mahabirod range in Dhenkanal forest division these days.
Local forest department officials, when asked why the timbers have not been seized, said seizure is not the solution. “We are looking for timber mafias,” they argued.
Local residents alleged that the forest department’s attitude is only encouraging the timber mafias to go on chopping trees.
A number of residents from Suratnali village under Chandpur panchayat recently spotted some sal, teak timbers lying in the nearby forest. Having known that the timber mafias smuggle these timbers to Panigengutia, Batasingh, Rod, Palasahi and areas on the other side of Brahmani River including Bido, Khadagaprasad, Nadhara and Dhalpur, they immediately intimated about the spotting to forest guard Niranjan Nayak.
Last Thursday, a team led by ranger Subrat Behera visited the spot, found the timbers lying in the forest and returned. Surprisingly enough, they did not seize them.
This has disheartened the villagers.
The forest department across the state has been asking the nearby villagers to act as informers to keep a check on timber smuggling. Curiously, in Mahabirod range, they do not even bother to seize the timbers here when informed by us, rued a local man.
The non-cooperation by forest department has irked villagers who alleged that the timber mafias are smuggling the timbers in cahoots with forest department officials.
When contacted, forester Sudarshan Sethy refuted the allegation that forest department officials are acting hand in gloves with the timber mafias. “The ranger has asked us not to bring timbers as there is no space in the office to keep them. Our focus is to nab the mafias,” he added.
Besides, the ranger threw the ball to the DFO’s court. Ranger Subrat Behera said, “DFO has directed us to nab timber mafias instead of carrying out seizures of timbers. That is why we have not seized the timbers.”