Coimbatore

Corruption unearthed in sapling plantation project

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has unearthed alleged corruption to the tune of ₹10.77 lakhs involving two former Forest Department officials and a contractor in implementing Tree Cultivation in Private Land (TCPL), a component under Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation Greening Project, in and around Coimbatore in 2014.

K. Sekar (55), former Forestry Extension Officer (Assistant Conservator of Forests), Forestry Extension Division (FED) in Namakkal, V.A. Murugesan, (63) retired forest ranger (currently working on contract basis with FED) and D. Ganesan (59) of Mathvarayapuram, a contractor working with Forest Department, were booked after a detailed inquiry was conducted by team led by inspector M. Kanagasabapathy.

Implementation of TCPL involves raising nursery and planting the seedlings of short and long rotation plant species in farmers' lands which is carried out by Forest Extension Division. In Coimbatore, Government had proposed to plant 1,70,000 seedlings in lands belonging to 286 farmers from the cluster villages like Thondamuthur, Annur, Chinna Thadagam, Maruthur, Kariampalayam, Dharapuram, Kunnathur, Mettupalayam, Perianayakanpalayam Perur, Sirumugai, Kundadam, Pichanur and Mullipuram in 2014-15 at a cost of ₹33,66,000.

Sekar, who was holding additional charge of Forestry Extension Officer in Coimbatore from May 27 to December 19 in 2014 and Murugesan assisted him in works with respect to Pichanur cluster villages. Ganesan, who had registered himself as a forest contractor in the forest divisional office in Coimbatore, was given the work of raising nursery and plantation for the implementation of TCPL.

The DVAC inquiry revealed that the trio hatched a criminal conspiracy to misappropriate the funds allotted for the above project during August to December 2014. They prepared 12 vouchers to show that 1,70,000 seedlings were taken from the nursery to the beneficiaries land involving various works. Murugesan prepared fake vouchers for the works which were passed by Sekar and later gave the cheques in favour of Ganesan. The inquiry found that Murugesan prepared four fake vouchers for ₹10.55 lakh to misappropriate the amount allotted for the plantation of 55,000 seedlings in Pichanur cluster villages. Ganesan encashed the cheques while works for the four vouchers were not carried out. DVAC investigation also found that the trio committed similar misappropriation in the implementation of the project in the other villages of Coimbatore.

The accused are booked under Sections 120(B), 167, 409 read with 420, 468 read with 477 (A) read with 109 of IPC and 13(2) read with 3(1) (c) and (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. DVAC has submitted the FIR before the special court for cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Coimbatore.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:15:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/corruption-unearthed-in-sapling-plantation-project/article24156063.ece

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