Forest officials at the Paro range office have stepped up surveillance for miscreants involved in illegal logging especially along the five kilometer road to Sanchoekor Buddhist monastery and Institute in Lamgong gewog.
This is after The Bhutanese broke the news of the rampant illegal activities in its previous issue.
Range officer Kencho Wangdi said the office has already deployed staff to patrol the area day and night. “In addition to our existing team, we have placed some officers and upped the vigilance,” he said.
However, there is still no trace of the miscreants and many efforts to nab them proved futile. “They have learnt about it through people and the media about the exposure of the illegal logging. So, it’s very difficult to catch them as of now,” the range officer said.
He said the range officials and Gewog office worked together to get to the end of the issue but in vain. “We conducted a complete review and inspection of the issue at site but none of the culprits have been caught due to leakage of information,” he added.
The range officer also said, interrogation and inspection will be conducted with sawmills, home builders and construction companies.
The Lamgong Gup Phub Tshering told this paper that “it’s easy for authorities to investigate this matter. They just need to inquire with the home builders on where they get the wood from.” He said the Gewog office can do that but Gups and Tshogpas he said aren’t authorized to do it nor do they have the power (cannot reveal all the strategy).
Earlier this month, following an investigation by The Bhutanese, the paper reported that hundreds of stumps of illegally felled trees dotted the forests in the village.
While some are fresh remains of tree trunks, many have aged and dried. Except for the stumps and a few twigs scattered here and there, the lumberjacks haven’t left a single chunk of wood at the scene.
This paper also described the mode of operation used by the illegal loggers as said by reliable sources residing at a settlement close to the crime scenes that “loud noises of chainsaws, crash of trees falling, pick- up trucks, power tillers and men conversing can be heard from a distance.”
However, the department of forest and park services (DoFPS), according to director Chencho Norbu, hasn’t received any report or information on the issue from the Paro Dzongkhag range office.
The officiating chief forest officer (CFO) of Paro, Tashi Norbu Waiba said it is difficult to catch the culprits unless there is a tip-off so that the miscreants can be caught red-handed.
The range office has incentive plans for informers. Whistleblowers or informers are rewarded with cash worth 25% of the total confiscated product.
Manpower and transportation vehicle shortage at the range office was cited as one of the main reasons for poor vigilance and inspection by the forest officials.