Three months after local human rights group Adhoc reported that a Vietnamese-owned rubber company had cleared 150 hectares of communal forest in Ratanakkiri province, Jarai ethnic minority villagers and Adhoc said Monday that illegal logging is continuing on land outside the company’s economic land concession (ELC).
On Sunday, Adhoc sent five representatives of a communal forestry committee made up of Jarai residents from Lom village in O’Yadaw district’s Paknhai commune to investigate claims that the deforestation was ongoing, said Chhay Thy, an investigator for Adhoc.
Mr. Thy said that the group found six Vietnamese nationals cutting trees outside of Company 72’s ELC, with one truck and two tractors parked on nearby land, which was inside the ELC.
“They cut the trees outside the land concession, pull them inside the company’s land then smuggle the wood to Vietnam through the unofficial Thmar Dar border crossing,” Mr. Thy said, adding that Adhoc will submit photographs of the vehicles taken by the forestry committee to local authorities as evidence of illegal logging.
Romash Svat, chief of the committee, said that he saw more than 40 felled logs, each cut into pieces measuring 6 to 10 meters in length and 30 to 60 cm in diameter.
“We asked one of the Vietnamese men why they were cutting down the trees, but the person just said that he worked for [Company 72],” said Mr. Svat, adding the forestry committee’s findings over the past two weeks suggested a surge in illegal logging.
O’Yadaw district governor Dork Sar said Monday that the government had ordered Company 72 one year ago to suspend its activity on the ELC after an investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture found the company had broken the terms of its contract by clearing land outside its concession area.
Mr. Sar said he was unaware of the new allegations of illegal logging but would order district officials to inspect the area.
“I do not know what decision the government will make regarding the company’s concession, but [district authorities] will inspect the area and we will arrest those Vietnamese people and send them to court if they are illegally logging.”