DOOMDOOMA, July 13 - A multi- crore rupees illegal trade in khoir timber (which is used for making katha for paan) in Doomdooma Circle has rocked Tinsukia district at a time when police were recently on the lookout for over 20 illegal khoir timber-laden trucks.
These trucks had attempted to enter Assam and later possibly retreated to Arunachal Pradesh after police intensified patrolling on all the national highways of Tinsukia district.
Meanwhile, professional rivalry among the timber mafias and a section of Forest officials has exposed the illegal syndicate involving the khoir timber.
It may be mentioned here that the heartwood extract of the khoir tree (Acacia Catechu) is used as an ingredient to add red colour and the typical flavour to paan. It is also used in the preparation of traditional medicine and also in industries related to dyeing and leather tanning. Further, its seeds are said to be rich in protein.
The forests of Arunachal Pradesh are being denuded because of illegal trade of the khoir tree. Strangely enough, the Forest Department of Arunachal Pradesh has turned a deaf ear to this illegal act. While the illegal khoir trade is causing loss of revenue to the tune of crores of rupees for the government of Arunachal Pradesh, on the other hand it is facilitating corruption in certain departments in Tinsukia district of Assam.
The entire syndicate of illegal khoir trade from Arunachal Pradesh revolves around Doomdooma Forest Division with the syndicate allegedly operating from Dholla and Saikhowa.
Rivalry among different factions of the syndicate has attained such a height that one group is complaining against the other. The situation is fast deteriorating due to the alleged nexus between a section of corrupt Forest officials and timber mafias.
It is also alleged that a few political leaders, including a lawmaker of the State are involved with this syndicate. Several illegal timber depots have allegedly come up in and around Dholla at the behest of an official of the Dholla Forest Beat Office.
Commenting on the latest development, Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarter), Tinsukia, Asif Ahmed who led the police team said, “Despite a quick search in Talap, Kakopothar, Maithang, Dirak and other areas of the district, we failed to locate the 10 khoir timber-laden trucks that reportedly attempted to enter Assam from Alubari in Arunachal Pradesh via Dirak inter-State gate on NH-52. Probably sensing the danger ahead, the trucks took a reverse turn from Mahong village at Bordumsa in Arunachal Pradesh.”
This development took place at a time when police and the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Doomdooma Forest Division are conducting joint operations to locate four other trucks loaded with illegal khoir timber that are reportedly kept somewhere in Doomdooma area.
According to the latest information, as many as 25 illegal khoir timber-laden trucks with fake transit permit (TP)s are stranded near the Alubari Ghat in Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh allegedly awaiting for ‘concurrence’ from lawmakers, police and officials of the Forest Department of Tinsukia district to proceed towards NH-52 and NH-37 for onward journey to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra.