Patrolling increased in forest areas to curb timber smuggling

Koraput: Patrolling has been intensified in areas under Gupteswar forest range in Odisha’s Koraput district to prevent timber smuggling.

The protection mechanism has been strengthened particularly in Ramagiri reserve forest and Haldikund forest under Jeypore division. Officials of the forest department said squads have been formed to intensify patrolling.

“We have formed two groups headed by forest officials and provided them with lights to help them in patrolling even during night. Forest guards and watchers are part of the group. Work of the squads is being regularly monitored,” said Forest Range Officer (Gupteswar) Suresh Mallick.

Maoist-hit Gupteswar forest range bordering Chhattisgarh has seen an active timber mafia. After felling teak and sal trees, the mafia make planks and transport the wood on motorcycles to Chhatisgarh and other parts of the district, said forester A K Harichandan.

In the past two weeks, forest officials have arrested four persons and seized sal and teak planks worth around Rs one lakh and two motorcycles from them.

The forest range is faced with severe staff shortage.

While two posts of foresters are lying vacant, five posts of forest guards are yet to be filled up, a senior official said.