LAHAN, Aug 21: Smuggling of Sal trees in Kavrepalanchok Community Forest, north of Lahan municipality in Sihara district, has intensified alarmingly as the forest is without a ranger for the last five years.
“Since there is no accommodation for a ranger inside the forest, they have been forced to live in Lahan,” said Hira Lal Kushwaha, Chairman of Lahan District Forest. The last ranger who left the forest during Maoist insurgency has been residing in Lahan for years engaged in some other jobs.
“The forest has been surviving on its own,” said an officer from Lahan District Forest Office.
“Neither have I reached the forest nor has any other rangers lately,” said Kuswaha candidly.
According to Kushwaha, it takes more than four hours on foot to reach the forest from Lahan and to go alone is out of question. “It´s not possible for me to go alone,” said Kushwaha. “Only option is to go with forest security guards and most of the time they are busy.”
A source revealed that the wood smugglers have been making planks out of the trees in the forest and pilling them at Govindapur Taregana. The planks are then transported during the night. “Taregana Village has become a storing platform for the wood smugglers,” said a local from the village.
However, there appears to nexus between the smuggers and other groups inthe destruction of the forest. “With mutual coordination between DEO, related ranger posts and security guards, the woods are smuggled to India,” claimed a police officer from Bishnupurkatti.
He informed that Bishupurkatti, Shovapur, Pakkitolm, and Govindapur Taregana are among some of the major places infested with wood smuggling activities.