Rosewood felling case: Sreejith to head SIT

The State government has constituted a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Additional Director General of Police, Crime Branch, S. Sreejith to investigate the illegal felling of protected rosewood trees from revenue land assigned to farmers in Wayanad district.

In his order, Chief Secretary V.P. Joy said a dedicated Forest and Wildlife Department and Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) team would assist Mr. Sreejith.

Mr. Joy said in the order that the "seriousness, impact and dimensions" of the illegal felling of rare and protected trees had warranted a comprehensive inquiry. He ordered the concerned heads of the department to depute "efficient officers with an excellent track record" to the SIT.

A forest vigilance team headed by District Forest Officer, Flying Squad, Wayanad, P. Dhanesh Kumar had detected the large scale felling of centuries-old rosewood in May.

An official said SIT would focus initially on the felling of rosewood from deeded revenue land in Muttil South village in the Wayanad district.

He said the "vague language" in the government order issued on October 24 permitting the sale of "cultivated" trees on revenue land had opened the door for the illegal logging of "wild timber" deemed as conserved "reserve trees". Many of the cut-down trees were more than a century old.

The SIT would also focus on exposing the corruption and influence operation that advantaged the timber thieves. An official said bribery at multiple levels, including Forest, Revenue and Police departments, had enabled the illegal harvest of trees and their subsequent transport to various timber depots for sale.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 4:46:58 AM |

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