Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Three nabbed for illegally felling, trading in sandalwood


Three nabbed for illegally felling, trading in sandalwood

Indian Express By Sibte Husain Bukhari


Junagadh, June 26 Poaching apart, the world famous Gir forest is also facing the threat of illegal wood smuggling The Junagadh Forest Department has recently arrested three persons for illegally felling and marketing sandalwood from the forest. The three have been booked under the Indian Forest Act 1927 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The three accused have been identified as Yar Mohamed Makarani, Pragji Dhanani and Ramesh Prajapati. Makarani is a resident of Sasan Gir village and a professional woodcutter, Pragji, a resident of Boradi village on the periphery of Gir worked as the middle man, while Ramesh, a resident of Vadatal village in Anand district used to sell wooden items in Vadatal village. Vadatal is one of the seats of the Swaminarayan sect and is a famous pilgrimage site in central Gujarat.


Assistant Conservator of Forest (Gir West) R D Katara said Makarani was arrested last week after he was caught hacking down sandalwood trees in the Sasaladhar forest range under the Gir west forest division. Investigations revealed that Makarani supplied the sandalwood to Pragji, who in turn sold the same to Prajapati.


During a raid at Prajapati's village, the foresters recovered 15 kg of sandalwood.


Later, on Wednesday Prajapati was produced before the JMFC court — Talala, which issued an order allowing the forest department to keep him in four-days remand.


Katara said the scandal might be widespread across the state and more arrests have not been ruled out.


Felling of sandalwood trees in the sanctuary area and its trade is a serious offence liable to punishment up to seven years of imprisonment.

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