Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nagaland Forest department refutes Customs claim

The Forest Department of Nagaland has refuted claims of the Customs officials of Guwahati that the timber seized at New Guwahati rail station on July 8 is illegal and is of foreign origin. The department clarified that the timber is of legal origin duly approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. The timber had been detained by the custom’s department on the apprehension that they are mixed with contraband goods. Customs officials in Guwahati seized a huge consignment of timber, allegedly illegal, shipped from Dimapur Railway station on July 8. The timber of mix species including moulded timber was destined for Nangloi in Delhi. The forest department of Nagaland however, stated that the timber is fully legal. Dimapur Divisional Forest Officer, Kocha Meyase, while talking to NETV said that the department has provided all the supporting papers to proof the legality of the seized timber and not as alleged. Queried on its origin, the DFO said that it was all sourced from inside the state, within the limit of stipulated norms. The DFO said the Customs people have no written authority, whatsoever, to conduct such an investigation. All the seized timber, the DFO said were sourced from identified forest ‘working schemes’ in the state approved under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and within the purview of the Nagaland Tree Felling Regulation, 2002. The department pointed out that a letter was written to the Railway and Custom authorities in Guwahati by the special investigation team to allow the wagons loaded with timber to proceed to its destination Delhi. However, despite the SIT’s guidelines, the wagons were unsealed by the custom officials. High Powered committee constituted by the ministry of Environment and Forests under directive from the Supreme Court is the sole authority which regulates the export of timber from within the state. Therefore, the DFO alleged that by breaking open the sealed wagons of the train midway have breached that standing order. The seizure was made on July 8 first and the department was informed of the same by the customs department, following which, the department sent a forest official with valid documents to Guwahati for verification. Despite producing the documents, the customs went ahead and unsealed one wagon. According to the forest department, the wagons which moved from Dimapur on July 7, contains 14 wagons of local Teak worth Rs. 29, 48,400, 7 wagons of moulded timber worth Rs. 1, 12, 00,000, 21 wagons of hardwood worth Rs. 2, 94, 84,000.


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