Forest officials colluding with timber smugglers: CIAA

- DR PANTA, Dadeldhura
Forest officials colluding with timber smugglers: CIAA

Dec 14, 2014-

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has said that timber smugglers are found to be working in an organised manner in collaboration with forest officials in the district. The anti-graft body said so after former UCPN (Maoists) central member Jagat Parki was arrested with illegal timber on Saturday.

The CIAA was able to seize 690 cubic feet of timber with the help of officials at Area Forest Office in Aalitaal.

Acting CIAA chief in Kanchanpur Bishnu Singh Bista said unchecked deforestation and timber smuggling in the area even when 108 community forests were under scrutiny proved that forest officials are indeed working with smugglers. “It is virtually impossible for officials at local Aalitaal Area Forest Office to remain uninformed of the scale of ongoing deforestation in the area,” Bista said, adding that even locals agreed to the fact.

According to Bista, the CIAA was monitoring a select group of people on the basis of information from external sources that also led to Parki’s arrest. He said Parki’s arrest helped establish the fact that an organised group of smugglers was working in collusion with forest officials.

The CIAA attempts to seize felled timber on the basis of tip-offs on earlier occasions was foiled twice. Recalling a raid near Kurum in Jogbudha VDC, a CIAA official said smugglers managed to hide the haul of timber before officials reached the site as the information about the raid was already leaked by a forest official. Meanwhile, following Parki’s arrest District Forest Office (DFO) chief Krishna Dutta Bhattarai was manhandled by Assistant Forest Officer Suresh Chandra DC in a dispute over the appointment of an officer to investigate the case. DC was arrested briefly after the incident. Meanwhile, the DFO has suspended Assistant Forest Officer Dan Bahadur Shrestha for his alleged collaboration with smugglers.

Seeking anonymity, a DFO official said some senior Maoist leaders were pressuring them to release Parki and settle the case arguing that he was arrested only on the basis of suspicion as illegal timber was found near his house. Even Bista and other DFO officials who stated that they arrested Parki for his involvement in timber smuggling on Saturday have changed their stance the following day saying that the Maoist leader was arrested under suspicion.

However, Bista said on Sunday that they were not pressed by anyone and they were investigating into the matter.

Published: 15-12-2014 09:14

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