DFO seizes 'Khayar' timbers illegally felled in Dhading

DHADING: The Division Forest Office (DFO), Dhading seized a large number of illegally felled Acacia catechu (Khayar) timbers in the forest area of Tripurasundari Rural Municipality-3, on Thursday.

The Khayar trees have been felled at a time when the government has imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the area comes under Sub-division Forest Office, Salyantar, local residents lodged complaint at the DFO suspecting the involvement of staffers from the sub-division office. They urged the DFO to stop the illegal felling of the trees.

Assistant Forest Officer Loknath Lamsal at the DFO informed that 680 cubic feet of felled Khayar timbers were seized from Dandekhola and Thulibesi community forests in Mulpani area. He said the seized timbers were kept in Mulpani under the care of ward chair of Tripurasundari-3, Lokendra Kumar Thapa, and Forest Consumers' Committee.

Acting on a tip-off, a team from the DFO raided the forest area in Mulpani and seized the timbers. However, no smugglers were found at the site. Ward chair Thapa said the catechu trees were felled without permission.

Meanwhile, the illegally cut timbers have been marked and stored near the residence of local Laxman Baniya and Ramhari Baniya.

Locals have suspected the involvement of the forest office staffers and the Forest Consumers' Committee in the illegal act of felling the trees during nationwide lockdown.

They have also suspected the involvement of two local timber contractors who are at large. Local Jagadish Baniya demanded that action should be taken against those who engaged the contractors in the smuggling activities.