DoF team to probe deforestation

Rautahat, July 18

A team of officials from the Department of Forest (DoF)today reached Dhansar Forest Area in Rautahat to investigate the massive deforestation reported in this daily a few days ago.

A news report on the felling of more than 100 saal trees and the smuggling of as many as 20 saal tress in collusion with forest officials was published in The Himalayan Times on July 16.

The news drew the authority’s attention, and an investigation team led by Deputy Director General Hem Aryal of the department was dispatched to look into the matter.

The team has started a field study to assess the damage to the forest.

Earlier, a team including the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, the Regional Forest Directorate, Hetauda, and the District Administration Office Rautahat had carried out a field study.

Preliminary investigation has shown that Assistant Forest Officer Shubha Narayan Yadav of Area Forest Office Dhansar was at his house in Malangawa, Sarlah without leave at the time the trees were felled. As per other officials at the forest office, Yadav had deployed his son Chhotu Yadav to work in his absence.

Forest officials have been charged with colluding with smugglers in the felling and illegal trade of trees. “As no action has been taken against the smugglers so far despite the involvement of higher authorities several times in the past, the smugglers might have consolidated and institutionalised smuggling,” said Bharat Acharya, a local.

The Forest Act strictly bans a person from entering the forest with an axe, a saw and any means of transportation.

However, deforestation has still been rife.

Deputy DG Bharat Aryal said action would be taken against the guilty as per the report of the field study.