With the suspension of two more forest guards in the Virajpet division in Kodagu in connection with illegal timber transportation to Kerala via Tolpatti gate (near Kutta in Kodagu), the total number of guards who are under suspension has gone up to four.

Kadam, a forest guard at Thithimathi Government Depot, and Thimmaiah, guard working at the Tolpattai check-post, were suspended last week, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Virajpet, Kantaraj, said on Thursday.

Ponnappa and Nachappa, guards, were placed under suspension on October 7. The Forest Department has booked criminal cases against 11 persons in connection with the case at the Ponnampet Police Station.

Team to visit Kodagu

The department has set up a high-level committee to probe the matter. The team will visit Kodagu on November 2, Mr. Kantaraj said.

The team would also probe the issue in which the signature of an Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) was forged to issue permit for transporting timber from the Thithimathi depot. Seal and signature of the Thithimathi ACF, who is now under suspension on charge of dereliction of duty, was forged on September 15 to issue permit to certain timber merchants to shift timber from the Thithimathi depot which was purchased by them in the auction. The ACF was placed under suspension on September 7.

As many as 11 sales tax delivery notes with specific numbers were raised to enable passage of timber from Kodagu to Kerala. But, some time later, they were shown to have been cancelled. This was done to avoid commercial tax payment pertaining to the deal. This aspect would also be looked into by the team, Mr. Kantaraj said.