Regenerated forests are being destroyed in Attappady and the latest incident is the cutting down of large tracts of bamboo from Pottamala in the Agali forest range that was planted under the Rs.219-crore Japan-aided Attappady Eco-restoration and Tribal Empowerment Project.

According to the reports reaching here from Attappady, large tracts of bamboo were cleared and transported out. In addition to this, large number of trees from private land in Attappady was cut down using the provisions of the Act that allowed cutting of trees planted by private land owners.

The law was aimed at encouraging planting of trees in private land, but this had now been used for the reverse process, said M. Sukumaran of the Attappady Protection Committee.

He sought an inquiry into the cutting down of bamboo protected under the Attappady Hills Area Development Society (AHADS) project. He said one of the major achievements of the Attappady eco-restoration project would be lost if 11,000 hectares afforested under the scheme was not protected.

The biggest ecological problem faced by the Attappady hills was the destruction of evergreen forest, which resulted in desertification of the area and marginalisation of its 30,000-strong tribal population, Mr. Sukumaran said.

To address the problem that could also threaten the nearby rain forests of the Silent Valley National Park, the AHADS was started in 1996.

With the winding up of AHADS, the authorities retrenched 380 watchers who had protected the regenerated forests. Ninety per cent of them were local tribal youths who took it as a challenge and protected the new forest cover.

There were also sandal reserves with an estimated three-lakh trees covered under the scheme. At Mulli in Pudur panchayat, sandal saplings and trees in 18 hectares were protected by the AHADS. At Sholayur, 93,000 sandal trees were protected. Mr. Sukumaran said that already large areas of the regenerated forests had been destroyed in the absence of proper protection.