Construction illegal fishing trawlers hidden from forest department

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Mohammad Aman Ullah (Cox’s Bazar Correspondent) : Illegal fishing trawlers are being built without government approval at several points in the coastal town of Chakaria upazila of Cox’s Bazar. For the past three months, the competition to make illegal fishing trawlers using the stolen roaring trees of the protected forests at the mouth of the Matamuhuri river in the coastal areas of the upazila, Badarkhali Ferighat, Saharbil’s Chowarfari and Betuabazar bridge, but the concerned forest department is playing a silent role for mysterious reasons. Due to the silent role of the forest department, the timber smuggling gangs have become reckless due to the exposure of the complaints received. The wood smugglers are destroying the huge forest resources of Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division and Lama Forest Division while providing wood for these illegal fishing trawlers. According to the source, during the current dry season, illegal fishing trawlers are being built along the sea channel of Chakaria Upazila. In addition, for the past few years, some syndicates have been working together to build illegal fishing boats by cutting different types of trees from the government forest area, including gorjan, in these spots near the mouth of the Matamuhuri river. Out of the three spots in Upakul, the outpost area of Saharbil is the most unlicensed fishing trawler set up every year. According to the local awareness community, if this continues, there is a fear that soon most of the forest areas of Cox’s Bazar and Chakaria upazila will become barren land. It has been alleged that the unscrupulous timber merchant syndicate has been in the business of manufacturing fishing trawlers for a long time by managing some people working in Chittagong Coastal Forest Department and Chakaria’s Sundarban range. running A fishing trawler is sold for 40-50 lakhs after making it. Although there is a thriving business of making illegal fishing trawlers on the banks of these rivers at various points along the coastal areas of these rivers throughout the year, the local forest department and the administration are not taking any legal measures to stop it. According to eyewitness sources, four on the north side of Badarkhali Bridge, in the riverside area adjacent to Chowarfadi Bazar in Saharbil. Construction of two big fishing trawlers is going on in the 5 and Betuabazar bridge areas. The workers engaged in the construction of fishing trawlers said that large-sized trees were cut from the forest area and brought by road as well as by sea. Due to the connivance of forest department people with traffickers, no one stops them from cutting and smuggling from the forest area. Local traders said, we buy trees with money. We do not steal from forests. According to their demands, the gang of smugglers transports these trees to their destination on roads and rivers. Before that, the people of the Katchhor Chakra had an understanding with the officials of the forest department. Also, the fishing trawlers currently under construction at various points do not have any kind of government approval. Basically, the fishing boat owners are secretly continuing the construction work by evading the revenue from the concerned department of forest department. Akkas Saudagar, a boat trader of Chowarfardi point in Saharbil of Chakaria upazila, admitted that before making a fishing trawler, he has to take approval from the local forest department. However, I did not approve the fishing trawler that was built two months ago. At that time I gave 30 thousand rupees to the range officer Ruhul Amin. Now I have made new boats and will take approval for them. Chakria Sundarban Range Officer Ruhul Amin has denied the allegation of taking 30 thousand rupees from boat businessman Akkas Saudagar. He said that Akkas Saudagar did not take permission from the forest department before making the boat. He stole the boat and sold it. Now I am being implicated to cover up my own crime. He said, none of the fishing boats being built in Chakaria sub-district have permission. Md. Anwar Hossain Sarkar, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division said that no one has taken approval for any of the fishing trawlers currently being built on the Chakaria coast. Therefore, legal action will be taken to seize these illegal fishing trawlers without permission. If it is found that the fishing trawlers are using wood from the reserved forest area, legal action will be taken if the forest workers are involved in smuggling, apart from the case against those involved.

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