Kerala

Action against erring officials after report: Saseendran

A section of officials of both the Revenue and Forest departments apparently colluded with each other to facilitate illegal tree felling for timber merchants in the State, if the sequence of events and preliminary evidence are any indication.

Sources said the officials very well knew about the dire consequences of executing the revenue orders that would eventually benefit the timber lobby instead of helping the cultivators, who had been granted patta land by the government.

“The special investigation team constituted by the government to probe the illegal felling of trees will not only focus on the incident at Muttil South village in Wayanad but also the allegations of corrupt practices throughout the State,” a senior official said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Minister for Forests A.K. Saseendran said the previous Left Democratic Front government had taken a final call when conflicting views arose against the revenue orders. “Even before the orders were issued, an all-party meeting was held so as to ease the difficulties faced by the farmers with title deeds. Also, a ministerial-level meeting was held to sort out the issue when cultivators were burdened with visiting forest offices,” he told The Hindu.

Emphasising that the general view of the Forest Department was not to allow felling of trees, Mr. Saseendran said many officials had aired concerns and objected to the revenue orders. “But their objections were overruled with the sole aim of helping the farmers,” the Minister said.

Replying to a question on taking action against erring officials, if any, the Minister said he would wait till the investigation team involving multiple departments submitted its report. “The whole issue was brought to light because of the vigil of the Forest Department. Maybe the senior officials were unable to fully concentrate on detecting the malpractice during the election time. Similarly, the district administration was also totally engaged with the COVID-19 crisis. Trees were illegally cut at that time,” Mr. Saseendran said.

He said the Forest Department was now fully galvanised with all range offices ready to tackle offences. “All vulnerable spots have been identified to check illegal felling of trees,” Mr. Saseendran said.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:33:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/action-against-erring-officials-after-report-saseendran/article34814579.ece

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