Forest Department officials unearth longstanding timber racket

Divisional SecretaryA?a??a??s signature forged on licence

A massive timber racket carried out over a long period using forged documents, has been unearthed by Forest Department officials in the Ampara area.

The signatures of Divisional Secretaries have been forged in a shrewd manner to transport the trees felled in areas such as Medagama and Bibile in the Moneragala district.

Officials had uncovered details about this well-organized timber mafia after the examination of a lorry between Ampara and Samanturai, transporting a load of satin wood with a forged licence bearing the signature of a Divisional Secretariat. The Forest Department had expanded its investigations into this matter because a Divisional Secretary could not authorize the transportation of Satin wood according to the existing laws and regulations.

Acticin over the counter In this deceptive document, the signature of the Bibile Divisional SecretariatA?a??a??s Gunadasa Samarasinghe and his rubber seal had been used fraudulently. After thorough investigations, officials had confirmed that the number of the timber permits issued here, could not be found in the log books maintained at the local authorities in the Moneragala and Ampara districts.

Forest officials emphasized that these documents had been forged so well that anyone could not suspect them at all, expect for minor factual mistakes made in them. In the document, the unit of measuring timber had been mentioned as milliletre instead of millimetre. There had also been an error in the Sinhala spelling of Forest Ordinance.

The value of the satin wood load seized had been estimated at one million rupees. Two suspects were produced before the Ampara Magistrate in connection with this racket and released later on cash bail of Rs. 7500 each and surety of Rs. 50,000.

Meanwhile, another timber load kept in the house of a mill owner in Samanturai had been found after investigations.
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According to instructions and guidance by the Director General of Forest Conservation, Sarath Fernando and Deputy Forest Conservator W.A.C. Weragoda, investigations were carried out by a team of forest officers led by District Forest Officer Lalith Gamage. Forest officials R.M. Wijeyapala, A.G. Sanath Priyantha, Upul Hettiarachchi, K. Jeyakumar and M.A. Jayah too took part in the investigations.


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