Kerala

Timber mafia axed 705 ‘royal trees’ in 4 districts

An ongoing investigation of the Forest Department has found that 705 ‘royal trees’, rosewood and teak are categorised so, on land assigned under the Kerala Land Assignment Rules, 1964, have been axed in four districts in the State.

These trees were felled by a timber lobby in Wayanad, Thrissur, Malappuram, and Kasaragod districts misinterpreting a government order.

While 161 trees, 101 rosewood and 60 teak, were felled in Wayanad, 509 trees, including 500 teak and nine rosewood, were cut from Thrissur. As many as 11 each huge rosewood and teak were felled in Kasaragod and 13 teak trees in Malappuram, sources said.

The Forest Department has launched a State-wide probe into the allegation of illegal felling of reserved trees. The investigation and compilation in the other districts are under way, the sources said.

The massive felling of endangered tree species such as rosewood came to light after a team of forest officials seized 54 pieces of rosewood logs worth ₹60 lakh from a sawmill at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam on February 9. The logs were transported from Wayanad after felling it from revenue pattaya land under the cover of the controversial order issued on October 24, 2020.

The police registered cases against 68 people in connection with the felling of trees in Wayanad and charged them under Section 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, was also recently invoked against them as per a direction of the special investigation team constituted by the government to probe the scandal.

Judicial probe sought

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday moved Governor Arif Mohammed Khan demanding a judicial inquiry into the theft of rosewood trees from assigned land in South Muttil village in Wayanad.

In a petition, Mr. Chennithala told Mr. Khan that a cabal of ruling front politicians, timber thieves, corrupt officials had robbed the forest wealth under cover of an order that enabled farmers and tribes to sell hardwood trees they had grown on their land.

(With inputs from Thiruvananthapuram bureau)


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 12:31:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/timber-mafia-axed-705-royal-trees-in-4-districts/article34911554.ece

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