from Our Correspondent
BANDARBAN, Jan 3: Theft of valuables timber and wood from the Matamuhuri reserved forest here continues despite punitive measures taken against a forest check post official of Yangcha forest under Chittagong forest circle.
The check post official. Enamul Haque has been suspended for his involvement in stealing timber through the check post.
The suspension was ordered following the report of a departmental probe- body which conducted investigation into the matter on the complaint lodged by the members of the environment and forest resource preservation committee of Lama - Alikadam area in the district.
The members of the committee alleged that a section of timber traders with the help of some dishonest forest officials have been carrying on the business of stealing timber and wood from the Matamuhuri reserve forest by showing fake transit permits.
They open the way of transporting timber through the forest check posts by using a special kind of permit issued by the forest authorities in favour of owners of private forest gardens.
A source in the Matamuhuri reserve forest office said, as per the decision of the district forest committee formed on December 27, 1998, special kinds of permits were issued to 63 owners of private forest gardens under Lama forest division.
The purpose was to check the theft of timber and wood from the reserve forest.
The permits allowed each owner to supply 1,000 cubic feet of timber and 550 cubic feet of wood from the private forest gurdens to the traders. In the year of 1999, such kinds of permits were issued to 96 owners of private forest gardens.
They alleged that the timber traders after preparing fake special permits with the help of some dishonest forest officials have started stealing timber and wood from the reserve forest. They show the permits to the officials in the forest check posts for clearance of transport.The traders have enganged some agents who collect timber and wood from the reserve forest and reach those to the traders showing the fake permits at the check posts.
The traders supply timbers to furniture making shops and wood to the brick field owners and the tobacco processing companies.
An informed source said, there are 29 brick fields in the district and these fields need about 50,000 maunds of fire wood to burn bricks in a season.
The brick field owners violating the government ban on the use of fire wood for burning bricks are purchasing wood from the traders for their purposes.
The timber traders also supply stolen wood to the owners of tobacco companies, who use lakhs of maunds of wood for processing tobacco in the oven. The stolen timber has high demand to the shops enganged in making farniture, The timber traders supply timber to the shop owners according to their demand.
The members of the environment and forest resource preservation committee claim that seven lakh cubic feet of valuable timber are being stolen from the reserve forest for supply to the furniture shop owners a year.
They expressing resenment against indiscriminate stealing of timber and wood from the reserve forest remark that if this state of stealing continues the reserve forest would be depleted of trees.
Source: The Independent, Saturday 6 January 2001