Forest official accused of disturbing local deity’s “abode”Dec 27 2013
The people of two villages under Chhaling Gewog in Monggar have accused a forest official of intentionally cutting down trees in a protected area for personal use. The official, however, maintains he is innocent.
Locals share that in the older days; people feared walking through the forest even in the day time. The area is believed to be home to a local deity called Degay Zangpo, so no one cuts trees in the area.
Kinzang, 83, warns that harm may come to the people now because trees have been cut down. “We even have a water source in the area which we have been protecting since the time of our parents. We never expected a forest official to do this.”
The Tshogpa, Tshundru Gyeltshen of Shebchi-Yangthang, also complained that the forest official had not informed anyone before cutting trees in the area. “The trees had already been cut by the time I was informed. The official told me that he had a permit from the Dzongkhag Forestry Officer to cut down dried trees”.
Another Tshogpa of Pangthang-Thempang, Pema Tenzin, said they are not being possessive about the trees. “We are just worried about our community being affected because the forest has been harmed.”
There is some evidence of other trees having been cut earlier, but villagers are quick to explain that those culprits had lost their lives afterwards.
The forest official defends his actions by saying he had not been aware of the protected forest.
The Chhaling Gup has been to asked to act on the matter by villagers, but he says he must wait for directives from higher authorities.
There are, currently, no official documents demarcating the area as being protected, but the Monggar Divisional forest office is expected to look into identifying the area as such.