DHANGADI - It took less than a week after the Maoists were given the Ministry of Forests for the group's Seventh Division at Gorange in Kailali to chop down 60 fully-grown sal trees ostensibly to build beds for their cantonment. The Maoists hired local timber contractors to illegally fell the trees in plots protected by three community forest user groups in the neighbouring villages. Instead of being used for camp furniture as stated most of the logs were taken to saw mills by the contractors. But two trucks carrying the logs were stopped by villagers who unloaded the timber and have kept them near the camps.
After complaints from the community forestry groups and orders from the CDO, the police apprehended another truck at the saw mill in Dhangadi and sent the timber to be deposited at the District Forest office. This is not the first time that the Maoists have taken part in illegal logging sprees in Kailali using the argument that they need timber for camp construction. DFO Mohan Koirala said the Maoists had told him they needed 3,000 cubic feet of timber to make beds, and said his office was investigating the matter. Maoist Kailali deputy in-charge Shrawan said the trees were felled with full knowledge of the DFO.
Villagers say the Maoists had asked for permission to fell trees in their forest, but even before the users' committee could make a decision the Maoists had already started felling.
Kailali's forests have always been a source of resource for the Maoists even during the conflict when they taxed the timber trade. Now, they have stopped taxing timber but seem to have directly chopped down trees to raise money.