Rejoinder, our reply
In a rejoinder sent to The Daily Star, Tangail Forest Division termed the June-5 report--52 Mills: Sawing Reserve Forests-- “misleading” and “not based on facts”.
Signed by the divisional forest officer, the rejoinder said the forest division has always been working against setting up and operation of illegal saw mills. It evicted 16 such saw mills in Tangail's Sakhipur upazila early last year and also lodged cases.
The rejoinder further stated that 24 more saw mills in Boheratoli, Hotea and Banshtoil ranges under Sakhipur upazila were evicted between May 15 and June 3 this year.
"Through joint drives by the district administration and the forest division, the remaining illegal saw mills will be evicted," it stated.
It also said the photograph of logs being carried by horse-carts published along with the report were not at all stolen timber. In fact, those trees were planted under social afforestation programme in 2000-01 and sold through tender following rules and regulations. It claimed that the entire forest of Tangail is now fully under the division's control and in no way illegally logged trees can be taken away in broad day light.
The Daily Star report's essence that illegal saw mills still exist is correct. They were not established overnight and they thrived due to the apathy of the forest department.
The Tangail Forest Division also acknowledged that by saying that "Through joint drives by the district administration and the forest division, all remaining illegal saw mills will be evicted."
So, we stand by our report.
But we acknowledge the fact that the reporter could not prove well beyond doubt that the trees shown in the photo were chopped down illegally.