The government has constituted a three-member committee of top forest officials to study and report whether there was any foul play involved in the case of the Karuna Plantations in Nelliampathy.
Responding to the notice served by A.K. Balan of the CPI(M) for moving an adjournment motion in the Assembly to discuss the alleged foul play, Mr. Chandy said the committee’s report would be placed before the House during the current session itself. The committee includes the Head of Forest Force V. Gopinath, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Protection) Surendra Kumar and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance) C.S. Yalakki.
The Chief Minister said the committee would report whether any vested forests were involved in the area claimed by the plantation company, whether any undue haste could be seen in the action of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the area who gave his no-objection certificate for accepting the land tax from the company and whether this was done to favour anyone. For the time being the Revenue Department would keep the acceptance of land tax from the company in a ‘frozen condition.’
Earlier, giving notice for the adjournment motion, Mr. Balan said the former DFO of Nelliampathy had objected to the acceptance of land tax from the company and had reported to the department that the Poabs Group, which ran the company, had ‘no title or right’ over an extent of 786 acres of land claimed by it. The property came into the possession of the company due to ‘lack of diligence on the part of the government’ in conducting the case before the Forest Tribunal, the High Court of Kerala and the Supreme Court, Mr. Balan alleged.
Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the property originally belonged to the Kollengode Kovilakom and it was not a government lease land. The question that would be examined was whether it was taken over by the government under the forest vesting laws at any point of time.