Timber smuggling racket busted in Telangana

Cases against officials from Forest and other departments for their complicity

June 19, 2020 07:54 pm | Updated June 20, 2020 09:12 am IST - ADILABAD

A part of the furniture seized at Naddamguda in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

A part of the furniture seized at Naddamguda in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

A Sarasala-like incident, which had witnessed forest officials and employees being attacked by villagers in Kagaznagar mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district last year, was averted three days back in Lingapur mandal in the same district when a team of forest officials and employees raided a furniture workshop in Naddamguda hamlet of Mamidipalli gram panchayat. The team busted a racket involving local smugglers, forest officials and officials from other departments and seized nearly 35 logs of illegally felled teak and furniture worth a few lakh of rupees in the raid on June 15 but the incident came to light only on Friday.

Nadamguda is a tiny hamlet in Lingapur mandal about 500 metres away from Lingapur mandal headquarters, and some 20 km from Jainoor mandal headquarters. Based on information provided by Additional PCCF (Vigilance) Swargam Srinivas and DFO Vigilance, office of PCCF (HoFF), Hyderabad, M. Raja Ramana Reddy a party headed by Adilabad Forest Divisional Officer V. Chandra Shekhara Rao raided the Nadamguda furniture workshop and seized teak logs as well as furniture and a mini saw mill.

The team also detected teak logs and furniture at two other locations. The illegally felled wood and furniture was seized later.

The team, however, came under attack from about 200 villagers when the officials tried to shift the contraband to the forest office elsewhere. The incident did not take an ugly turn thanks to better sense prevailing among villagers.

Officials involved

The raid laid bare the complicity of the forest field-level officials and some officials from other departments. One Deputy Forest Range Officer was suspended soon after initial inquiry and a case was booked against an official from another department besides, the arrest of one carpenter who owned the workshop.

Inquiries by The Hindu revealed that timber smuggling has been on in these parts since long. The furniture making racket was initiated a few months back and at least three lorry loads of furniture was shifted out from the workshop so far.

Adilabad Superintendent of Police Vishnu S. Warrier, who is also in charge SP of KB Asifabad district, said an inquiry into the incident was underway and culprits will be punished as per law. He said the government was in favour of crushing timber smuggling with an iron hand.

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