Foresters penalised for illegal timber extraction

… including three foresters sent on compulsory retirement

Tshering Palden

The agriculture and forests ministry’s human resource committee compulsorily retired three foresters from Wangdue forest division for illegal rural timber transaction.

However, they will be eligible for post retirement benefits.

The committee, which is the highest decision making body of the ministry on human resources issues, issued its decision this week.

The committee also penalised a senior forest ranger and a senior forester of the division for lapses in monitoring and failing in command and control.

The committee ordered that the promotion of senior Ranger Suk Bdr Subba of Khotokha range be withheld for a year. His promotion was withheld for two years for similar offence in 2018, Kuensel learnt.

The ranger was held accountable for passing the excess timber from the revenue money receipt issued. The ranger joined forestry service in November 1989.

The other foresters were penalised for excess timber transitted.

Unit in-charge and senior forester, Chimi Tshering was demoted to forester, which is a level below with effect from January 1, 2020.  The three other foresters were asked to compulsorily retire and also pay fines and compensation of the excess timber.

Chencho, Yeshey Tshewang, and Damcho Tenzin have to pay between Nu 696,223 and Nu 2.4 million. The former two joined service in 2014 while Damcho Tenzin was recruited in 2012.

The HRC decision also stated that the penalties have to be deducted from their post retirement benefits. Given the short service period, an official said their retirement benefits might be able to cover the penalties they have to pay the government.

A forestry official said that the fines and penalties were determined based on the volume of the illegal timber extracted.

Kuensel learnt that their transfers were being processed when the chief forestry officer in Wangdue requested the ministry to retain them in the division given the acute shortage of personnel.

The forestry officials were suspended after an investigation team from Thimphu found misuse of rural timber and illegal timber extraction.

The case surfaced a few months ago after the agriculture minister received a call from Wangduephodrang on alleged misuse of rural timber in one of the gewogs. The team from the forest protection and enforcement division found illegal timber extraction in other places including Khotokha, where the rural timber was misused.

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