Illegal khair trade steals slumber of Lohit forest officials

TEZU, Nov 28: Illegal kattha or khair, (acacia catechu) trade and random felling and smuggling of the tree species, triggered a cause of concern for the officials of Lohit forest division, which with a handful of personnel fail to protect the exotic species due to the porous border with neighbouring Assam.

The vast plantation coverage right from Lohit Bridge to Digaru and sprawling up to Balizan River bordering Lohit and Lower Dibang Valley districts, made the department helpless due to its handful of manpower.

“Lohit has 40 km porous border with Assam while it shares 100 km border with Dibang Valley which is also equally porous. Flourishing plantation in the adjoining pocket along the NH-13 provides easy access to the illegal khair mafias,” Lohit DFO T Pertin informed.

He added that the department with its limited manpower earlier seized lots of illegal consignments after several night patrolling and surprise checking.

“A 24×7 forest check gate has been set up near the Digaru tri-junction to trim down sporadic khair trade,” he added.

Though the dept is incurring heavy revenue losses due to acute shortage of manpower, the DFO and its team after consistent attempts seized khai logs which earned an amount of Rs 30 lakhs through auction.

Sources at the department informed that illegally felled trees are smuggled out to a factory based at Namsai and Dhola in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Following its high market demand and commercial values khair plantation is under serious threat. The department has decided to call auction notice every year to sell out mature plantation and would go for fresh plantation, the sources added.

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