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TURA | OCT 10, 2019:

Incidents of illegal timber smuggling were reported in Chibinang village under Phulbari PS in West Garo Hills (WGH), after photos of timber trucks moving through the village in broad daylight surfaced. Reportedly, the smuggling of timber in the area was closed for a month earlier.

Incidentally, one of the NGOs fighting against the menace has apparently joined the melee of illegal ‘tax’ collectors following which the movement of timber restarted just a few days ago.

Chibinang has been home to over a dozen illegal saw mills which have been operational despite half hearted efforts by the administration to shut them down. The efforts, amount to nothing more than lip service has left many questioning the efforts of the forest department, which even has a range office close by.

“The collection of money is taking place with smugglers paying money to many parties. On an average we believe about Rs 20000 per truck is being provided. Now one of the NGOs who were fighting this menace has joined hands with them,” said AMMSU Chibinang president, Enjazul Alom.

According to him an amount of Rs 500 per fully loaded truck, Rs 400 for 407 trucks and Rs 300 per Pik Up is being collected by members of the NGO.

“This is a complete turnaround from what their NGO is supposed to be doing. This is unfair on many counts and does not bode well for the region,” he added.

Timber trucks have been moving boldly through the day in the village, paying little heed to the authorities meant to check the illegal acts.

“This movement in the day is impossible without the authorities being hand in glove with the smugglers. They (authorities) are aware of even a pin being moved, so without their support, it’s unthinkable that something as big as a timber truck will move without their knowledge,” said a local on the condition of anonymity.

Upon being informed on the matter, the superintendent of police stated that an inquiry into the matter would be taken up while there was no response from the DFO – West Garo Hills on the matter after the officer was informed on the happenings.

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