Mumbai Crime: Forest team recovers teak wood worth Rs 15 lakh in surprise raid

Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 07:47 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Range officer of Shahapur forest division had received a tip-off that a consignment would be transported late Wednesday night

Forest officials and workers recover teak wood logs from Khairpada
Forest officials and workers recover teak wood logs from Khairpada

Smuggling of teak wood at Thane district's Shahapur taluka has once again come to the fore with a team of the state forest department carrying out a raid and recovering nine to 10 truckloads of it worth Rs 15lakh. According to the team, the market price of the seized wood is pegged at around Rs 1 crore.

On Tuesday, range forest officer Prashant Deshmukh from Shahapur forest division received a tip off from sources that a consignment of teak wood would be transported late in the night. Thereafter, they laid a trap and seized the consignment that was being transported on a bullock cart. However, the person who was driving the cart managed to run away on spotting the officials. The forest department suspects the presence of a bigger smuggling racket.

Speaking to mid-day, Deshmukh said, "After getting the tip-off, we laid a trap close to the Khairpada-Ambivali road. Around 2.30am on Wednesday we spotted a bullock cart carrying teak wood passing by the road. But when the person driving the cart saw us, he ran away. The cart was immediately taken to our office. The next day we decided to conduct a search operation in the area. During our visit to Khairpada village we were surprised to see that none of the locals were present and we managed to recover teak wood logs worth R15lakh from several spots."

Logs buried in pits

During the search operation, the forest department team found that teak wood had been kept inside houses and also outside in such a manner that no one notices them. At some places the logs were buried in pits with grass dumped over it.

The officials are now trying to find out from where the villagers got the wood because there are no teak trees in the area. However, Tansa wildlife sanctuary is close to the village from where the consignment was seized, which raises the question whether illegal logging is taking place at the forest.

When contacted, Mayur Kamath, member of the State Wildlife Board, said, "The ground staff and officials have done a commendable job in recovering teak wood. The size of the seized wood logs indicates illegal logging happening in the adjoining areas. Such big logs of teak trees are rarely found in the territorial landscape. But teams from the Tansa and Shahapur forest divisions must work in tandem and book the culprits. Proper investigation and arrests can help us put an end to such illegal smuggling."

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