Greens seek SIT probe into tree felling at Sugandhagiri in Wayanad

‘The accused fell more than 130 trees in the pretext of the Forest department’s order, which permits cutting of only 20 trees posing a threat to residents’ houses under the project in January’

April 01, 2024 08:38 pm | Updated 11:33 pm IST - KALPETTA

 The huge trees which were axed from the Sugandhagiri Cardamom project near Vythiri in Wayanad.

The huge trees which were axed from the Sugandhagiri Cardamom project near Vythiri in Wayanad. | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Environmental organisations in Wayanad have sought an enquiry of a special investigation team into the massive tree felling from the Sugandhagiri Cardamom Project, one of the largest resettlement projects in Asia launched exclusively to rehabilitate bonded tribal people in Wayanad by the end of 1970, near Vythiri in the district.

In a letter to Chief Minister Pinaryai Vijayan and Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti president N. Badusha said the Forest department had issued permission to cut only 20 trees that were posing a threat to the houses of residents under the project in January, the accused had fell more than 130 trees from the area in the pretext of the order.

The incident was rare as the officials, who had to conserve the reserve forest, became the looters of valuable trees, he said. Though the department registered cases against six persons in connection with the incident, only three Forest personnel, including a forester and two watchers, were suspended. The remaining accused were reportedly absconding and trying to acquire anticipatory bail at a local court, Mr. Badusha added.

An investigation of a special team alone could find out the role of higher officials in the looting, he said. Similar incidents were continuing in various private plantations in the district including Brahmagiri-A, Brahmagiri-B, Alathur, Bargiri, Chelode, Koottamunda, Mariyanad and Krishnagiri, he added.

The organisation would approach the Kerala High Court to constitute a special team to probe into the tree felling if the government failed to form a team.

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