DHARAN, July 25: Illegal extraction and smuggling of stones from Andheri Khola of Sunsari is on the rise. The area falls under President's Chure-Tarai Conservation Region. Though vehicles used by smugglers are booked by District Forest Office (DFO), they are often released on bail which has further encouraged them to carry on with their illegal extraction.
As informed by conservationists, in recent days Andheri Khola has been the centre for extraction and smuggling of stones. As the DFO and police administration are far from the river, smugglers are free to extract stones at their will. Sometimes, police confiscate tractors and other materials used for smuggling and hand them over to the Dharan-based Sector Forest office (SFO). But those vehicles and tools are released on bail. As per the rules, they have to pay Rs 10,000 for the release of the vehicles. There is not a single record where owners have been booked.
As it is easy to release the vehicles with minimum amount, smuggling has remained unchecked, lament conservationists. According to SFO, Dharan, as many as 22 cases of illegal extraction and smuggling were been registered in the fiscal year 2016/17. But the DFO has released all the vehicles on bail.
Two days ago, two tractors were handed over to the SFO. One of the tractors was laden with stones while another didn't have the trailer where the stones are carried. But, the SFO is planning to release one of the tractors saying it does not have the trailer.