DHUBRI, Oct 29 - The number of illegal sawmills, timber trade and quarries operating in nook and corner of Dhubri district is on the rise for the past few years although the district has a low forest cover.
The forest check station in Dhubri has detected and seized a total of 47 sawmills, including vehicles carrying timber and quarries in 2018 and this number went up to 75 till October 2019. In this regard, as many as seven persons have been arrested in 2019, while no arrest was made in 2018.
It was informed that most of these illegal saw mills operated in areas bordering BTAD while illegal quarries are mostly found on the banks of river Gangadhar and in Khoraghat area. These quarries deal with sand gravels illegally. Illegal sawmills are mostly found in rural areas of Dharmasala, Tamarhat, Paglahat, Silarpar and Kacharighat area. And vehicles carrying illegal timber are caught in various parts of the area. Most of these vehicles use the district as a transit point.
The sawmills are not only involved in deforestation, but also involved in selling and supplying timber illegally. The owners of sawmills fell trees illegally and after processing, these timber are not only sold in various markets of the district but are also sold in West Bengal and other districts of the State, informed Forest officials. And quarries mostly supply stone and sand gravels used as building materials in Dhubri district and its neighbouring areas.
It was also informed that sawmill and quarry owners keep agents in markets who contact owners of under-construction buildings and directly supply them with timber or building materials. These agents also contact furniture and hardware shops and supply them with materials.
Most of these raids have been conducted by a team led by Range Officer Harish Chandra Nath along with Forest officials and the police. “These illegal sawmills and quarries are set up in remote areas and mostly have support of local people,” said Shabaz Sultan, Forester-I. He also said that in most of the cases the accused persons flee from the spot since they are informed about the raid by local people.
“Due to such illegal operation, the forest cover in the district is decreasing fast, where forest cover is already very thin,” said Joydeep Sil, District Coordinator of Natures Bacon, an NGO working on environmental issues. He also added that if such works do not stop soon, then the destruction due to floods will increase manifold, and the people will witness drastic climate change.