Curchorem: Cutting down of around 400 young areca nut trees at Verlem, Sanguem allegedly by forest guards has irked the villagers, who have now lodged complaints with the Sanguem police, and offices of deputy collector, mamlatdar and Netravali village panchayat.
Sources disclosed that the areca nut trees belonged to Prakash Gaonkar, Khushali Gaonkar, and Prabhakar Gaonkar, and the area reportedly comes under Netravali wildlife sanctuary.
Deputy collector of Sanguem Ajay Gaude immediately called an urgent meeting of the villagers and heard the grievances. Complainant Prakash Gaonkar stated that he saw two forest guards, in their uniform, near the site, and added that they after seeing him immediately left the site on a motorbike.
The villagers strongly condemned the alleged act on the part of forest guards of destroying the areca nut plantation.
South Goa ZP president Navnath Naik also expressed his anguish over the incident.
“On one hand, the forest department appeals to grow more trees while on the other hand, the forest guards are mercilessly cutting down trees,” he said.
Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar also condemned the alleged act.
The MLA said that he would approach the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to demand justice for the aggrieved villagers.
In the meantime, the deputy collector accompanied by Sanguem police, forest officials, mamlatdar and villagers visited the site, which is about 2 km away from the main road. As per information provided by Gaude, the plantation is very old and the trees have been cut down selectively.
He further said that the police have been directed to submit the report by May 25 and the issue will be resolved by convening a meeting of the concerned parties.