October 17, 2021, 10:23 pm
Kamalganj (Moulvibazar) Representative:
The theft of trees is not stopping in the reserved forest of Adampur forest beet under Rajkandi range of Kamalganj upazila of Moulvibazar. As a result, protected forests are being deforested.
It has been alleged that the gang is active in smuggling trees in the area with the help of BIT officials and forest workers. They are smuggling beet agar and teak trees along with social forestry. And all this is happening with the help of Bonbit worker Helal Uddin. On Friday, October 1, a CNG driver, led by a Bonbit officer, was taken hostage at gunpoint and taken to the BIT office.
Meanwhile, some eyewitnesses, including Rahmat Mia and Anwar Ali, said on condition of anonymity that when they heard that Abdus Salam had been detained at the Adampur bit office on Friday morning, they went to the spot and saw him tied up with injuries. When they spoke to other guards, including forest ranger Joynal Miah, at the BIT office to rescue him with CNG, they first demanded Rs one lakh. Later, when it was finalized at Rs 50,000, he released Salam with Rs 25,000. CNG should be released with the remaining Tk 25,000.
Abdus Salam, a CNG driver from Chitlia village in Alinagar union, said he had been abroad for a long time. Corona came to the country and bought a CNG. He runs it himself. On Friday morning, while he was going to his relative’s house in Kawargala village of Adampur with CNG, the BIT officer stopped him and forcibly picked up a tree with CNG and took him to the BIT office. When he refused, they threatened to beat him and sue him.
The driver, Abdus Salam, said there were two more CNG autos at the time of his arrest. They took two CNGs with a large sum of money. When the bit officer demanded Rs 50,000 from him, he did not pay the whole amount and paid Rs 25,000. Still stuck in the CNG (auto) bit. Although four days have passed since the arrest of the agar tree, no case has been registered yet due to mysterious reasons. The locals and members of the social forestry association have expressed their displeasure.
Md. Hajir Box, President of Beneficiary Association of Adampur Bit Social Forestry Project, is known to be under the partnership of Adampur Bit Social afforestation of agar garden was created in the financial year 2000-2001. The theft of agarwood from this garden is happening at different times. Some unscrupulous tree thieves in the area are smuggling trees by managing villagers and forest department people.
The matter was reported to the local forest department but the smuggling did not stop. Last Thursday, September 30, a group of forest rangers led by BIT officials seized 3 CNGs including about 70 pieces or 35 cubic feet of wood while smuggling agarwood from Sangaisabi area near Kawargala of Adampur forest beet. After hearing the news of the arrest of three vehicles and the driver along with the tree during the smuggling of agar trees, he called several times but the bit worker did not receive the call.
A visit to the Adampur bit on Sunday revealed that some pieces of agarwood and some other pieces had been left inside a CNG in front of the bit’s office. Asked about the seizure of CNG along with the driver during the smuggling of valuable agar trees on Friday morning, forest ranger Joynal Mia admitted that one CNG had been seized. But he could not be found after searching for the details. It was later learned that the BIT official did not want to appear in front of the journalists.
On condition of anonymity, locals and villagers said that Beat Officer Helal Uddin has been involved in various irregularities since he joined the Adamupar Beat. It has been alleged that through various irregularities and corruption, the government has embezzled money from various forest projects and is trading forests worth lakhs of rupees by taking unethical benefits from the beneficiaries of social forestry.
Locals said those in charge of the forest were smuggling the trees. No action is taken to inform the forest bit officer about the smuggling of trees. The opposite is to be the victim of harassment. Fearing this, no one is willing to protest or speak now. Meanwhile, four days have passed since the arrest of the agar tree, but no case has been filed yet.
Adampur UP Chairman Abdal Hossain said theft of protected forest trees has increased since Helal Uddin joined the Adampur bit. Through various irregularities and corruption, he is embezzling money from various projects taken up by the government in forestry, trading forests worth lakhs of rupees by taking unethical benefits from the beneficiaries of social forestry. Several written complaints have been sent against him to the higher echelons of the government including the forest ministry. He tried to contact Adampur bit officer Helal Uddin on his mobile phone for two days but did not receive the ring.
Nazrul Islam, forester of Kamalganj Rajkandi Range, said he had heard of the arrest of agar trees. The case file has not yet reached the Rajkandi office. He declined to comment when asked for comment.
ACF Nazmul Alam, Assistant Forest Conservator in charge of Kamalganj Rajkandi Range, could not be reached by phone.