Exploited by timber mafia, Muttil farmers live in fear of repercussions

The ongoing investigations by government agencies into rosewood tree felling and their repercussions are now a major concern for farmers who were allegedly exploited by timber mafia in the district.

Agencies, including the special team constituted by the State government and the Intelligence wing of the Forest Department, have begun separate investigations into the illegal felling of centuries-old rosewood trees within Muttil South Village limits.

The police have registered cases against as many as 68 farmers, including tribal farmers in the village, under Section 379 (theft) of the IPC following a complaint by Revenue officials.

Velan, a member of the Malamkara tribal hamlet near Vazhavatta, had sold a lone rosewood tree on his land to the lobby after they allegedly misinterpreted a government order. He got ₹38,000 for the huge tree but the villagers said Velan was duped by the lobby as it was a huge tree worth more than ₹5 lakh.

Neelakanda Das, an 83-year-old farmer near Kakkavayal, sold four huge trees on his land to the lobby.

“I planned to sell those trees since they started to wither and posed a threat to my house and property,” Mr. Das told The Hindu. The farmer got ₹1.50 lakh for the trees.

“The lobby had misused an outdated government order (GO) issued on March11, 2020, which had given full right to farmers to cut all reserved trees except sandalwood on the assigned land. The lobby succeeded in exploiting the farming community in the area cleverly by using the order,” N. Badusha, an environmental activist, said.

Obscurity in the second order issued on October, 24, 2020, also helped the lobby cheat farmers, he said.

Farmers also fear that they might be charged a huge amount as fine for cutting the reserved trees on the assigned land as per the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 5:27:50 AM |

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