Staff Reporter

PUCL to approach CEC for more stringent action

MALAPPURAM: The State Government has transferred Nilambur North Divisional Forest Officer P. Pukazhendi and Range Officer P.K. Asif in response to the public demand for action against them for their alleged involvement in the illegal construction of a 410-metre road through the reserve forest.

However, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which had sought the intervention of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on the issue, has expressed displeasure at the Government action. Its president P.A. Pouran said that the Government action was too light and insignificant for a grave violation of forest law.

The PUCL has decided to approach the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), appointed by the Supreme Court under the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, seeking punitive action against the forest officers who had been found guilty of helping private parties illegally construct a road through the Nilambur reserve forest.

Mr. Pouran said that the forest laws guaranteed a minimum of 16 days' imprisonment for the offence committed by Mr. Pukazhendi and Mr. Asif. He said they would approach the CEC seeking exemplary punishment for the forest officers.

He alleged that the Nilambur forest was extensively being encroached by people with the connivance of some forest officers.

He said that 84 IFS officers were working in a small State like Kerala, where only 35 officers were required. Most of them, he said, were working as conservators or chief conservators. He expressed anguish at the failure of the officers in protecting the existing four per cent forest land in the State.