KATHMANDU, June 18: Locals and some forest officers in Sarlahi have accused the District Forest Officer (DFO) and other forest officers of smuggling forest products from the national and community forests in the district.
Officers from the District Forest Office complained that DFO Naresh Thakur and Murtiya Area Forest Officer Chandra Prakash Yadav have been jointly felling sal trees from Murtiya Area Forest and Janakinagar Ilaka Forest, and transporting them to a saw mill in Barhathwa for cutting and smuggling them to India.
An officer from the District Forest Office who didn't want to be named said, “Illegal logs have been found in the mill repeatedly but officers have been trying to hush up the matter.”
A local leader from Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and activist for the welfare of forest Bishnu Adhikari showed his discontent with the working style of the District Forest Office. “We have repeatedly filed complaints at the office regarding the smuggling of timber, but none of those complaints has been addressed. DFO's reluctance to take up the issue also indicates his involvement,” he said adding, “We are now planning to register a corruption complaint at the CIAA and the ministry concerned if this problem is not addressed on time.”
Locals complained that the DFO along with forest officers has also been encroaching upon forest land. A local said, “Parts of land from Janakinagar Community Forest are being sold every month by the forest officers,” adding, “How will the community forest develop if the officers themselves are corrupt?”
Locals also expressed their discontent over the stationing of crook forest officials. Subha Karan Lal, a guard at Banke Collaborative Forest, who has been linked with the DFO in
the smuggling of timber, has been caught smuggling wood time and again but no action has been taken against him. Adhikari said, “We have filed applications for his transfer but no action has been taken.”
Last month, 150 square feet of timber which was being smuggled to India was found by locals and was sent back to the District Forest Office for investigation. As of now, no one has been booked for this timber smuggling.