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Forest Dept recovers 'illegal' timber from Asiad gold-medallist Swapna Barman's house

Forest Dept recovers illegal timber from Asiad gold-medallist Swapna Barmans house

The Bridge Desk

Published: 14 July 2020 7:53 AM GMT

The Forest Department has issued a notice to Arjuna Awardee Swapna Barman, for allegedly hoarding 'illegal' timber at home. A team from the Baikunthpur Forest Department on Monday raided the home of the athlete in Kaliaganj, Jalpaiguri, who won gold in the heptathlon event at the 2016 Asian Games. A team of forest officials led by Belakoba Range official Sanjay Dutt searched her house and found plenty of illegal timber, the forest department said. The Department has issued a notice to find out the source of the timber as the athlete and her family could not give a satisfactory explanation on how the timber was collected. They have to reply to the notice within a month.

An official of the forest department told Bengali daily Ei Samay, "At first, Swapna Barman's family prevented us from entering their house. In the end, the forest workers had to enter the house by showing the search warrant."

Sapna is emotionally broken due to the incident. Due to the lockdown, she is now at her home in Patkata area of ​​Jalpaiguri. A new house is being built next to the present house where they live. Her family, however, gave an explanation that they had the proper documentation for the stockpiled wood. He is not able to show the documents now as the household items remain scattered during the construction of the new house. The forest department team were not satisfied with that argument. After that the notice was given to the family. State Forest Minister Rajiv Banerjee said, "It doesn't matter whose house the forest department went to in search of illegal timber. If any attempt is made to destroy the forest, the forest department will keep a check."

এশিয়াডে সোনা জয়ী স্বপ্না বর্মনের বাড়ি থেকে উদ্ধার অবৈধ কাঠ।বাড়িতে কাঠের লগ চেরাই এর অভিযোগ। ঘটনার তদন্তে বনবিভাগ। দেখুন...

Posted by Dooars Darpan - ডুয়ার্স দর্পন on Monday, 13 July 2020

Many people make a living by collecting tree trunks and wood that float from the river Teesta every year during the rainy season. Although it is illegal, all those woods are cut together and sold at cheap prices. Besides, several illegal rackets in the area cut down expensive trees from the forests of North Bengal and sell them. Recently, the Forest Minister visited North Bengal and gave clear instructions to the staff and officials of the department that there is no need for any compromise in the protection of the forest. The wood smugglers must be suppressed with a firm hand. Due to the forest minister's instruction, the forest department has started searching illegal timber all over North Bengal.

The search was carried out on Monday in Patkata area near Jalpaiguri city. Belakoba Ranger Sanjay Dutt said, ‘Looking at the wood stored in the house, we suspect that all this wood has been collected from the river. But it is illegal. Swapna Barman's family wanted time.

Many smell politics in the story. After winning gold in Asiad, Swapna was given a reception by the state government. However, due to the recent closeness of BJP with Swapna's family, many people think that the Forest Department's operation is meant to give a little 'crack'. Such a possibility has been dismissed as a rumour by Swapna's family.

Trinamool Congress Jalpaiguri district president Krishnakumar Kalyani said, "I don't know who raided Swapna Barman's house, the state forest department or any central agency. I will respond only after finding out."

The Bridge tried to contact Swapna, her response is awaited.

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