Illegal unload of cargo at Mitha Nallah in Swaraj Dweep continues unabated

Reserve forest! Who cares?
Report by: 
ZEENATH BIBI
Port Blair
8 Feb 2019

Operation of illegal cargo transportation from Jodakalan, near Sippighat in the suburbs of Port Blair to Mitha Nallah, Vijay Nagar in the Swaraj Dweep (Havelock) is going on unhindered. Cargo pantoons bring cargo materials and unload the cargo in the reserve forest from where the cargo is dispatched to various shops and households directly. Trespassing in the reserved forest of Swaraj Dweep is now a routine, occurring right under the nose of the Forest officials. As per laid down rules, all cargo materials meant for outer islands should go through different ports from Port Blair under strict supervision of the Port Management Board (PMB). PMB on its part maintained proper manifest of all the materials going through each port. It also ensured that cargo is transported without causing any loss to the government exchequer.
According to the Indian Forest Act 1937, the power to stop ways and water courses in reserved forest lies with the Forest Department. Forest Officers are authorized to stop public or private transportation in reserved forest areas. But in order to avoid port charges and delay, some officials in the Forest Department hand-in-glove with the law enforcing agencies and some businessmen have developed new method of cargo transportation with the active support of these authorities. A manmade harbour has come up at Jodakalan area, near Sippighat.   This makeshift port is just opposite Kali Mandir near Sippighat, adjacent to Bimblitan road.
EOI sources informed how rampant illegal of cargo materials is going on unchecked. One can witness illegal cargo loading and unloading taking place unchecked. Trucks loaded with cement, titles, consumer items, LPG cylinders, rods, quarry products etc reach this harbour and loaded in totally unsafe small country boats and engine dinghies tethered there.  No scanning of checking of the cargo is done. As per unconfirmed reports, this port is also used for transporting contraband substances to other tourist locations in remote Islands. This is how narcotic substances are easily made available in outer Islands.
Due to this illegal cargo trade, the UT administration is losing huge money as most of the time its own cargo vessels are going out of port with little or no cargo. Unconfirmed reports suggest that illegal cargo enters these Islands also through Mayabunder Port through the vessels coming from mainland and touching this port. And then it reaches Jodakalan without any hitch. Later, it reaches the destination in different islands without going through any legal scrutiny. Law enforcing agencies are well aware that many of these small boats are not licensed to carry cargo as they are not registered under relevant rules. Moreover, the cargo transported on board these country boats is not insured.