More tim­ber found on mil­i­tary re­search com­pound

The Myanmar Times - - News - SI THU LWIN sithul­win@mm­times.com

OF­FI­CIALS have found a third cache of tim­ber on a mil­i­tary re­search com­pound in Man­dalay.

An­other 11 tonnes of il­le­gal tim­ber was con­fis­cated from a for­mer wood fac­tory within a for­est area cor­doned off for mil­i­tary re­search on Septem­ber 1, bring­ing the to­tal il­le­gal tim­ber found in that area over the past two month to 500 tonnes.

On July 4, of­fi­cials found 328 tonnes of il­le­gal tim­ber in the area, near Ban Thar vil­lage within the Ho Late vil­lage tract in Man­dalay Re­gion’s Pyin Oo Lwin town­ship. Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion turned up an­other 161 tonnes of fire­wood on Au­gust 26.

On Septem­ber 1, Lieu­tenant Colonel Naing Win from the Mil­i­tary Academy, Lt Col Soe Aung from the Tat­madaw Science and Tech­nol­ogy Re­search Depart­ment, of­fi­cials from the For­est Depart­ment, of­fi­cials from Na­tional League for Democ­racy and the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tor searched the area once again.

Their in­ves­ti­ga­tion yielded an­other 11 tonnes, mostly hard­wood, af­ter they dug out the ground, Ho Late vil­lage tract ad­min­is­tra­tor U Tun Win told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

They found 18 hard­wood logs, two hard­wood di­vided sec­tions, three hard­wood bars, and an­other 13 tim­ber logs, he said.

A lo­cal res­i­dent named U Htay Hlaing had a per­mit to col­lect about 60 tonnes a year for kitchen fuel at a forestry school. But both the July and Au­gust raids far ex­ceed the num­ber of logs al­lot­ted, and the sec­ond cache was hid­den, and in­cluded lux­ury hard­wood va­ri­eties such as Shorea ob­tusa and iron­wood, ac­cord­ing to res­i­dents.

“U Htay Hlaing, who got per­mis­sion to ex­tract tim­ber here, de­nied that he was re­spon­si­ble for these tim­ber ex­trac­tions, cre­at­ing the il­lu­sion that the mil­i­tary ex­tracted this tim­ber,” U Tun Win said.

“The mil­i­tary is su­ing U Htay Hlaing for the ex­trac­tion of the first 328 tonnes. We have heard that the For­est [Depart­ment] will sue for the sec­ond. Who­ever is re­spon­si­ble for the il­le­gal ex­trac­tion of tim­ber, we want ef­fec­tive ac­tion taken against them.”

Pyin Oo Lwin town­ship For­est Depart­ment staff of­fi­cer U Myint Naing Oo said the lo­cal res­i­dent should not be held re­spon­si­ble for all three caches without ev­i­dence. “The owner of first piles of seized fire­wood is U Htay Hlaing. So, it is as­sumed that U Htay Hlaing is the owner of the sec­ond piles of seized fire­wood. But we have to do in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” he said.

“We co­op­er­ated with the of­fi­cials from the mil­i­tary and NLD to seize the il­le­gally ex­tracted tim­ber. The mil­i­tary is plan­ning to de­ploy se­cu­rity.”

Un­der the Forestry Law sec­tion 41(a) – with which the mil­i­tary is charg­ing U Htay Hlaing – who­ever ex­tracts, moves or keeps un­law­ful posses­sion of any for­est pro­duce will be pun­ished with a fine of up to K10,000 or with im­pris­on­ment, which may ex­tend to one year.

Per­mis­sion for U Htay Hlaing to ex­tract fire­wood was signed and an­nounced by Myan­mar For­est School head­mas­ter U Thein Myint. U Htay Hlaing was also as­signed to main­tain the nat­u­ral forests and over­see the ex­trac­tion of fire­wood, which was meant to be used to bake brick and lime within the Tat­madaw Science and Tech­nol­ogy Re­search Depart­ment area, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments.

The Sein Lan Pyin Oo Lwin en­vi­ron­men­tal group says it op­poses the il­le­gally ex­tract tim­ber and urges of­fi­cials to take ac­tion.

“Our Sein Lan en­vi­ron­men­tal group will hold a meet­ing on this fire­wood and tim­ber seizure is­sue, make a de­ci­sion and re­lease a state­ment,” chair U Lay Myint Aung said. “If we [the lo­cal res­i­dents] do not pro­tect our Pyin Oo Lwin land, the cli­mate change in Pyin Oo Lwin will worsen.”

– Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

Photo: Supplied

For­est Depart­ment work­ers ex­am­ine logs dug up by an old wood fac­tory.

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