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TURA | Sept 10, 2019:

Despite concerns being raised over deforestation in many parts of Meghalaya, the pleas to protect and preserve the forest areas seem to fall on deaf ears.

The large scale felling of trees is not only limited to private lands as reserved forests under the jurisdiction of the state government are also victims of human unlimited wants.

The latest case was reported in East Garo Hills after residents found huge number of sal trees mowed down within a state managed forest reserve about 5 kms from the offices of a range forest office in Rongjeng.

Thanks to technology, concerned citizens posted pictures of the destruction on social media, the same of which has gathered criticisms from several quarters even as people question the role of the forest department in curtailing the illegal felling of trees.

Incidentally, a cow tethered in the jungle was also killed after one of the illegally cut trees fell on the animal, with its neck being crushed.

It was reported that the incident of tree cutting took place 3 days ago in broad daylight.

“This illegal felling of trees would not have happened if the department concerned was even a little vigilant. How can they just turn a blind eye to what is happening to our state reserves when they are being paid to protect it? This is absolutely insane,” said a resident of the area, Chengsal Momin.

It was also informed that the forest sub beat office inside Rongjeng Reserve has not been opened since ages.

The office is located just about half a kilometer from where trees are being unscrupulously cut by some locals in conduit with timber smugglers from Assam.

“All this timber goes to Assam and they use the same roads that we do. How is it that they are able to smuggle these timbers right under the noses of the authorities? It just shows that all those involved are shamelessly taking money to allow this passage,” claimed Mukesh M Sangma, an NGO member from Rongjeng.

Meanwhile, the setting up of another illegal timber mill in the village of Mangsang, close to Rongjeng is a hurdle in the fight for conservation.

The hitherto untouched forest near the village is now in danger unless the state acts quickly.

ALSO READ | Meghalaya: Angry mob burns vehicle carrying ‘illegal’ timber

FOREST DEPARTMENT DRAWS FLAK

The forest department drew flak for its inactivity from many who felt that the time had come to make them responsible for the destruction of forests.

The department itself seems least concerned about the happenings despite the fact that state managed reserves are gradually losing their touch due to the wanton destruction.

“Their salaries should be deducted according to the work that they do. If trees are being cut from the reserves, they do not deserve to be paid. Instead their pay should be cut. Maybe that is the only way they will take the tree felling episodes seriously,” added Arman Marak, another local resident.

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RESERVE FORESTS UNDER THREAT

The situation is similar in almost all the state managed reserves of the state with no one paying any heed to saving trees from being mercilessly mowed down.

Whether it is the Rongrenggre Forest Reserve or the Siju Forest Reserve, most high value trees have literally been wiped out of existence, only to satisfy the greed of some unscrupulous criminals and the apathy of what is now a farcical state forest department.

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