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Onslaught on coastal reserve forests

left rootsReserve forests in coastal areas of Patuakhali area are facing an onslaught by organised gangs of thieves who are stealing timber trees indiscriminately. Local people alleged that the gangs are cutting valuable timber trees from forests in coastal areas of Kalapara and Golachipa upazilas allegedly in connivance with a section of forest department staff and law enforcers. Scores of trees like sundary kewra, garan, mehogony and karai and being taken away from reserve forests in Fatrar Ban, Chan Gangamoti, Kachop Khah lake in Kalapara; Sonar Char, Nishanbaria and Chor Montaj in Golachipa almost every night, they said.

These are loaded on trawlers and country boats and sent to different areas including Dhaka, Chittagong. Parts of these are also sold at nearby sawmills. Forest officials sometimes recover stolen timber and take alleged thieves into custody but this is only an eyewash, they alleged. This correspondent during a visit also saw many leftover portions of stolen trees in Fatrar Ban.

When contacted, Divisional Forests Officer (DFO) Md Zahurul Alam in Patuakhali said, "I am yet to receive any complaint about stealing timber trees from reserve forests. I joined only six month ago. We will try our best to stop this". He said forest guards and law enforcers on Sunday recovered about 500 cft of sundari timber from three trawlers on Kalagachia river and arrested 15 people. Source: The Daily Star, May 24, 2006

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