The timber caught in the truck

Timber from community forest diverted

The Rongthong Dungkar Choling community forest committee under Kanglung Gewog found some of its timber that had been offered free for the construction of a local Shedra was being diverted for private construction in Mongar.

The diversion was done by Langnag Dorji who handles the wood work for the Shedra.

The members of the community forest observed that Langnag Dorji was diverting wood from the community forest to various places instead of the Shedra construction.

A local resident said that the committee first approached the local forest range office informing them of this and even describing the vehicle but they said an investigation was not launched.

The committee had to then contact higher officials and then only a team was sent from the Dzongkhag forest office and they investigated and confirmed that a truck of timber had been caught on its way to Mongar.

The executive committee that looks after the community forest based on the investigation of the forest office decided to fine Langnag Dorji Nu 81,915.46 which he later paid.

The local resident said that a few years ago the Yonphula Goenpa decided to construct a Shedra and the local community as its support offered free timber from the community forest for the project.

The project took time to come up but construction is currently in full swing. In the meantime, around 40 large Cham trees were found to have been cut from the community forest for the Shedra but locals allege that a lot of the wood did not go to the Shedra but got diverted to places like Phuentsholing, Trashigang Town, Mongar etc.

A local said the 40 trees for their value and size would be worth millions.

However, a local Forest official on the condition of anonymity said that it will not be easy to send the timber to places like Phuentsholing and even Trashigang town for sale due to various check posts and also the reward system for informants.

The man at the center of this Langnag Dorji a former Gomchen who handles the woodwork of the project said that the wood that had been sent to Mongar was not from the Shedra stock.

He said that Yonphula Rinpoche is also a member of the community forest and so the wood sent to Mongar was from Rinpoche’s share.

 He was backed up on this by the Yonphula Rinpoche who said the wood sent to Mongar was not from the Shedra but from his share as a member of the community forest.

He said that a major donor of the Shedra in Mongar had given around 500 truckloads of stones for the construction of the Shedra. Rinpoche said that the donor who was constructing two houses needed some wood and so he in gratitude offered some wood.

The Rinpoche said that Langnag Dorji works under him and some people in the community are jealous of him since he handles important works for the Shedra project and have falsely reported him.

On the issue of complaints by locals that wood from the community forest was being diverted to as far as Phuentsholing and other places, Rinpoche said he had sent some wood to Thimphu for making doors and windows and that may have been mistaken for diversion.

However, some locals while being respectful of Rinpoche’s position say his explanation is not acceptable.

They say that the community forest has around 370 members and wood from the forest can only be used for certain specific purposes as approved by the committee.

They say this time the only approval was for the Shedra and not for giving it to anyone else or transporting it elsewhere.

A local said that if Rinpoche’s logic is followed then the community forest will be depleted in no time.

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