Illegal felling and smuggling of khair trees in Lohit: AMSU

TEZU, Aug 12: The All Mishmi Students’ Union (AMSU) has drawn the attention of the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) on the indiscriminate felling and smuggling of khair trees (acacia catechu) in Lohit district and sought the intervention of the PCCF to stop the illegal trade.

The union said felling and smuggling of khair trees are going on unabated in the district, incurring heavy revenue losses.

It claimed that the illegally felled trees are smuggled out to a factory based in Dhola in Assam’s Tinsukia district in connivance with some unscrupulous officials of the forest department, police from both Arunachal and Assam, some local public leaders and businessmen.

“As per a reliable source, the forest officials of Digaru, Paya and Sunpura ranges are working hand-in-glove with the smugglers of the khair trees,” the union alleged in its letter to the PCCF.

 “Since there is no khair tree plantation in Assam, the factory is completely dependent on the raw materials/ khair trees smuggled from the Lohit forest division,” the union said.

It said the forest department had planted these khair trees in the Digaru and Paya forest ranges under Lohit forest division around 30 to 40 years back, which are now attaining maturity.

“Now, however, only the young and immature khair trees can be seen on both sides of the highway between Tezu to Roing,” the union said.

The union appealed to the forest departments of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to coordinate with each other to prevent the illegal felling and smuggling of khair trees.

It also appealed to the state government to legalize the extraction of khair trees and establish khair factory within the district, which it said, will not only generate huge revenue for the state but also provide employment opportunities to the unemployed youths.

It further demanded stern action against those found involved in the smuggling of khair trees and to book them under relevant section(s) of the law.

The tree has high medicinal value. The red part of the wood is used for making ‘kattha’, a main ingredient in paan.