Sawmill owners write complaint against forestry department to the President

Maung Rammar

Sittwe: A group of sawmill owners in Sittwe, Arakan State have recently written a complaint letter to the President regarding unlawful activities of the local forestry department reportedly because the regional chief minister is still unable to rule the department after their first complaint to him.

U Kaung Zan Hla, one of the sawmill owners, told Narinjara that they have to lodge complaints against the forestry department because it has been illegally allowing the furniture stores to run sawmills by taking money.

“The forestry department is now allowing the furniture-makers to run sawmills without legal permits. According to the enacted laws, no furniture industry is permitted for establishing sawmill. But the responsible officers of the department are now taking Kyat 30,000-40,000 per month from a furnisher-store and allowing them run sawmills. So, there are now so many sawmills without license in Sittwe and the licensed sawmill owners are greatly hurt in their business”, said U Kaung Zan Hla.

He said they have first complained to the Chief Minister of Arakan State as they have been suffering from great losses from their business, but the CM could not solve their difficulties and they have to complain to the President.

“The officers of the forestry, township and district-level administrations summoned to meet us on 16 May in the forestry office after we had complained to the State Chief Minister. They told us that they would take actions to shut down those sawmills without legal permits and that they were ordered to do so by the higher authorities as well. But they have not taken any action against them yet”, he said.

The forestry officials in Sittwe are said to have also increased the yearly license fee of a legal sawmill from Kyat 18,000 to 50,000 this year while they have been taking Kyat 30,000-40,000 per month from the illegal sawmills.

The legal sawmill owners are said to have faced great losses in their business since illegal sawmills attached to the furniture stores have sprouted in their town. So, seven of them have undersigned and sent the complaint letter to the president very recently by the post office as their difficulties are still being neglected by the state-level administration.

It is also said that the legal sawmill owners are facing more difficulties in their business as they have been ordered by the forestry department not to saw even the officially-permitted woods without its prior permission.

Narinjara has called the office of the forestry department in Sittwe for their comment over the complaint of the sawmill owners, but no one has answered our phone calls.