Six loads of timber smuggled from CHR seized

Following inspections launched by the Vigilance squad of the Forest Department to identify illegally felled trees, officials of the Ayyappancoil range seized nearly six loads of timber from Vellilamkandam, near Kattappana, on Sunday evening which has been felled from the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) area.

The timber seized was of Javawood (Chorakkali or Cholavenga) and Indian Copal (Vellapine).

The search was held following a tip-off that timber was concealed at Vellilamkandam. The Forest Department rarely give permission to cut trees from the CHR which has tree species endemic to the Western Ghats. Permission is given only if a tree is naturally dead, diseased or poses a threat to human life or property. The status of the CHR is that of a reserved forest. Only an authorised official can give permission in writing for cutting a tree in the notified CHR area as per Section 4, 5 of the Preservation of Tree Act.

Preliminary inquiry revealed that Communist Party of India (CPI) local leader and former president of the Kanchiyar grama panchayat was involved in transporting the timber and storing the load there. An official of the Forest Department said an inquiry had been launched to find whether more timber had been smuggled from the CHR area.

Inspections on

A team led by forest flying squad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) A. Shanavaz will inspect all ranges in Kottayam and Idukki districts to check the instances of tree felling. The team already inspected Kumily and Ayyappancovil ranges. According to sources, large-scale tree felling was done, especially in the CHR area, after the Revenue Department issued the controversial order giving permission to farmers to cut trees other than sandalwood grown by them on their land.

In Chinnakkanal alone, 143 trees were felled. Instances of tree felling were reported in the Adimali, Ponmudi, Ayyappancovil, Mankuva, Udumbanchola and Rajakkad areas.

Applications being verified

Devikulam Subcollector S. Premkrishnan said that the Udumbanchola and Devikulam tahsildars were directed to submit the details of applications received for tree felling following the issue of the controversial order. The title deed of a cardamom estate at Chinnakanal, where 143 trees were felled, had been cancelled, he said.

Farmer forum stand

Meanwhile, CPI’s farmers’ wing the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said the government should not have cancelled the order for tree felling issued on October 24. Kisan Sabha State vice president Mathew Varghese said that the order was issued in the interests of the farmers. Before issuing the order two all-party meetings were held and former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had attended them. No political party had opposed it then, he said.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 11:02:01 AM |

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