Maple smuggling: HP must enhance vigil to catch thieves - The Tribune India

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Maple smuggling

HP must enhance vigil to catch thieves

Maple smuggling

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock file photo



THE busting of a maple wood smuggling racket in Chamba has revealed the magnitude and expanse of the illegal timber trade in the region. The illicit activity spans states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Maple tree knots, valued for their unique grain patterns and religious significance, have become a lucrative commodity for smugglers. These knots, sought after by woodworkers, craftsmen and Buddhist monks, fetch high prices in the market. However, their smuggling not only causes environmental degradation, but also robs the state of considerable revenue. The arrest of 15 persons, mostly from Nepal, underscores the transnational nature of this racket. The smugglers’ modus operandi, involving clandestine transportation of maple wood across state borders, reflects the challenges faced by the authorities in combating the crime.

Efforts to integrate forest and police outposts, as highlighted by Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu at a meeting of forest officers in Shimla last August, are crucial for tackling timber smuggling. By leveraging modern technology, the authorities can enhance surveillance and clamp down on illegal activities. Further, the collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the Forest Department must extend beyond the mere integration of outposts. Comprehensive strategies involving intelligence-gathering, targeted raids and strict enforcement of laws are imperative to dismantle the entire network of the illegal trade.

It is not just about protecting the state’s natural resources, but also about safeguarding the livelihoods of the local communities dependent on the forest ecosystem. The plunder of maple trees disrupts the delicate ecological balance and deprives future generations of these resources. Only through collective vigil and decisive action can we save our natural heritage.

#Chamba #Uttar Pradesh #Uttarakhand


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