Making a serious charge, the Nagaland timber farmers and traders has accused the higher-ups of Forest department and minister in-charge of manipulating train wagon allotments of both tree farming and moulding beat worth crores of rupees annually, for the past three years.
The charges were made at and emergency meeting of the district units of the Nagaland Timber Traders Union (NTTU) at Dimapur on Thursday where they also demanded an end to the “unfair manipulation,” that deprived genuine timber farmers and traders of the due share of livelihood and profit margin.
Nagaland Timber Traders Union in a press statement alleged that for the past three years, the Forest department has been selling the allotted train wagons (approximate 35 wagons quarterly) of both tree farming and moulding beat, to some moneyed individuals at the rate of Rs. 1.5 -2 lakhs per wagon.
“This has deprived the genuine and deserving local timber farmers and traders of their due share and the genuine timbers traders cannot even raise price of timber in outside market due to the unfair manipulation of the Forest department and others,” NTTU said.
Nagaland Timber Traders Union has demanded that the allotment of wagons for moulding beat should be done on rotation basis and that every timber-importing district should be included in the list.
Nagaland Timber Traders Union has also constituted district-wise committees to pursue the demand for allotment of wagons.
“At this rate, only those who have money can afford to buy the wagons as the genuine farmers who want to sell their limited timber produce cannot afford to pay a hefty price for the wagons,” it said.
Members during the meeting pointed out that selling of wagons instead of allotting to genuine and deserving timber farmers and traders even after they paid all royalty to the government, was “illegal” and “outright daylight robbery.”
The NTTU further claimed that the Forest minister had turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the timber traders despite repeated request and memorandums in the past.
Nagaland Timber Traders Union said it would not remain a silent spectator till the issue was resolved in interest of timber business community as a whole.