12 illegal sawmills shut
Twelve sawmills illegally set up in the reserve forest in Sakhipur upazila of the district have been shut down.
A joint team comprising the forest department officials and law enforcers raided the sawmills inside the reserve forest at Taktar Chala, Hatiobandha, Rajapur and adjacent areas yesterday and closed them, said Hafiz-al-Asad, assistant superintendent of police (ASP) in Tangail. The team also seized equipment and materials from there.
The forest department will file cases against the owners of the sawmills, the ASP added.
Though setting up of sawmills within 10 kilometers radius of any reserve forest is a punishable offence, a section of dishonest and influential people have been logging in the forest in the name of running sawmills.
After a news item, titled “52 mills sawing reserve forest in Sakhipur," was published by The Daily Star on June 2011, the authorities concerned had closed down 35 illegal sawmills in the reserve forest.
The forests in Tangail once stretched over 122,876 acres of land in five upazilas -- 47,220 acres in Sakhipur, 45,565 acres in Madhupur, 21,855 acres in Ghatail, 7,576 acres in Mirzapur and 669 acres in Kalihati -- forest department sources said.
Of the total forest area, there are 55,476 acres of reserve forests in the district, of which 38,232 acres are in Sakhipur, 7,225 acres in Mirzapur, 7,251 acres in Ghatail, 2,500 acres in Madhupur and 185 acres in Kalihati, sources said.
All these forests have shrunk due to indiscriminate felling of trees and encroachment on the forests since independence, they added.