In a major drive by the Forest Department, at least five illegal shops that had encroached into the Rongrenggre Forest Reserve area in East Garo Hills were dismantled on Tuesday.
The eviction drive came after the shops were served with notices of removal despite which the owners refused to budge.
The Forest Department (Territorial Division), with the assistance of the police and district administration, carried out the drive. The shops were all located at the tri-junction at Chisobibra inside the Rongrenggre Reserve.
“The shops were served with notices in September but were reluctant to move. In fact one of the shops was set up overnight on December 30 last year but was removed the next day. If not for the staff at Simsanggre Range, the shops would have turned into mini-markets,” said Sathish KS, the District Forest Officer.
“The efforts of the staff have often led to clashes between villages and the staff of the department, which makes it difficult to handle situations. This is because livelihoods come into play,” said the DFO.
He added that the shops were often used as sentry posts for timber smugglers as they provided information on the movement of illegal transports as well as the movement of forest and police personnel.