Greens demand CBI probe into tree-felling case

Illegally felled rosewood logs at Vazhavatta in Wayanad  

While the illegal felling of centuries-old rosewood trees in Wayanad roils the Kerala Assembly, environmental organisations in the district have sought an investigation by the Vigilance wing of the police or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), under the supervision of the High Court, instead of a probe by the special investigation team constituted by the State government.

“The massive felling of ancient rosewood trees in Wayanad by the timber lobby, with the alleged support of a group of top brass at the Secretariat and the Forest Department, by misinterpreting a government order, is not an isolated incident. Similar cases have been reported from other districts too,” N. Badusha, president, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti, said in a memorandum submitted to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Since the involvement of officials of the Revenue and Forest departments and top leaders of political parties was suspected in the case, an investigation by lower rank officials would make the probe farcical, Mr. Badusha said.

‘Illegal order’

The government order issued by the Revenue Secretary on October 24, 2020, for felling rosewood trees on revenue land assigned for farmers was illegal, Mr. Badusha. The silence of the senior officials in the Forest Department on the issue, despite getting a copy of the order the very next day, was mysterious.

The District Public Prosecutor had advised the Wayanad District Collector and South Wayanad Divisional Forest Officer on January 12 that the tree felling was illegal. However, no steps were taken to prevent the looting, Mr. Badusha said.

‘No arrests yet’

Though the tree felling was stopped later, the accused, including Anto Augustine, Roji Augustine, and Josekutty Augustine, were yet to be arrested.

The officials also failed to adopt legal actions against the accused as per the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property (PDPP) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Instead, they filed a complaint to Meenangadi police station against 68 farmers three days ago, when the issue came to light.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 10:37:14 AM |

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