Action sought against Nawalparasi DFO over timber smuggling row

PARASI: Various political parties in the district have demanded stern action against the district forest officer for his alleged involvement in the illegal clearance of the forest at Gaindakhal in Sunwal-5. An all-party meeting held at Parasi on Sunday sought for punishment to the officer.

The representatives of

the political parties made such demand in the wake

of seizure of huge quantity of sal timbers from the houses of the locals.

Meanwhile, a four-member probe team led by Mahendra Chaudhari, under secretary, Western Regional Forest Directorate , has suspended assistant forest officer Dilliram Chapagain and forest guards Mahendra Bhar, Surendra Baniya and Hari Prasad Baniya of the Sunwal Range Post for their alleged involvement in felling the trees in collusion with smugglers.

Likewise, authorities are interrogating Lilaballav Pandey and Tikaram Tiwari, who are in police custody for their alleged involvement in the forest clearance. Arrest warrants have been issued against 21 staffers and 6 advisors of the proposed Madhuban Community Forest. But they have been absconding.

Though timber worth millions of rupees had been recovered from the houses of the locals, Hari Narayan Mandal, District Forest Officer had earlier said that only few logs were found.

Accusing the officer of trying to conceal the exact amount of timber, Subas Giri, district chairman, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) said, “Mandal has tried to hide the amount of smuggled timber.” Birendra Yadav, district member, CPN-UML said since the forest officer had not answered all the questions satisfactorily Mandal must be involved in clearing of the forest too.

A team led by Shyam Kumar Chaudhary, assistant forest officer, Area Forest Office Bardaghat is also looking into the case. However, representatives of political parties have demanded new probe committee blaming the existing investigation committee of being untrustworthy and unreliable.

Meanwhile, locals and representatives of the political parties claimed that

they have received threats following the timber

smuggling row. According

to Uttam Raj Panta, acting district chairman, Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal,

cadres of his party have

received threats.