Illegal timber smuggling continues in Phulbari

Tura, Sep 21: Despite the crackdown on illegal saw mills and timber in the Garo Hills region, the Chibinang area in Phulbari under West Garo Hills (WGH) has continued to defy the crackdown with timber smuggling and saw mills once again have begun operations in the area.

Interestingly, emboldened smugglers have begun to even transport timber during day time, as if encouraged by someone or some groups of people to be doing so.

A crackdown on illegal saw mills last month in WGH had seen most of the timber mills operating illegally temporary shutting down, while others sought different locations to operate. The advantage for Chibinang has been the close proximity with Assam which allows for saw mills to be present in Assam while timber is illegally moved through Meghalaya to these illegal mills.

The Chibinang area had been left off in the previous crackdown which may have to an extent gone towards emboldening those currently involved in smuggling timber. Locals estimate at least about 30 illegal saw mills operating in the area and more than 20 trucks of timber coming through illegally with nothing to stop these illegal operations.

The lack of a joint task force, comprising the states of Assam and Meghalaya has only ensured such saw mills mushroom in the area.

“There is no fear among them and it seems everyone who can stop these activities is actually involved in helping this illegal trade. They are using roads which have check gates set up by GHADC, state and the police, so how are they not stopped? At least earlier they used to move in the night or early morning. Now however it is in freefall and no one dares to stop these people,” said a local on the condition of anonymity.

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