Kerala

Tree-felling case: Cong. unsure of the strategy ahead

The Congress leadership in Kerala is still searching for ways to politically take on the Left Democratic Front government in the illegal tree-felling controversy.

Already, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan and his predecessor Ramesh Chennithala have sought either a judicial inquiry into the case or an investigation under the supervision of the High Court. However, a section of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leadership is rooting for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A senior functionary of the Congress said the KPCC had not discussed the issue threadbare and devised a common strategy to counter the government. Since both Mr. Satheesan and Mr. Chennithala had publicly demanded a judicial inquiry, the other leaders decided not to take a different view.

‘Time-consuming’

They believe that a judicial inquiry would be time-consuming and be just confined to the submission of a report with recommendations. However, a probe by the Centre’s premier investigation agency would unravel the truth behind the issuance of two Revenue Department orders to fell trees in government-allotted lands.

Besides, the sources said, the CBI would be better equipped to handle the probe into the ‘conspiracy’ behind the Revenue order on October 24, 2020, which was a continuation of its earlier order on March 11, 2020. The Revenue orders permitted the cutting of all trees, except sandalwood, when several laws stated that the rights of scheduled trees (teak, rosewood, ebony, and sandalwood) were vested with the government.

‘No consent for CBI’

Sources said Communist Party of India (CPI) leaders E. Chandrasekharan and K. Raju, who were Revenue and Forest Ministers respectively then, were in the dock in connection with the orders. However, only a CBI inquiry would expose the real culprits who plotted for the issuance of the Revenue orders so as to ‘help the timber lobby and to generate funds for the Assembly polls.’

The previous Left Democratic Front government had withdrawn the consent accorded to the CBI to operate in Kerala voluntarily after the Central agency decided to investigate corruption charges in LIFE Mission, a housing project of the government. Now, Congress sources said, an intervention of the High Court was necessary to initiate a CBI probe. Already a petition had been moved in this regard. “The KPCC leadership will react at an appropriate time,” they said.


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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 8:02:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tree-felling-case-cong-unsure-of-the-strategy-ahead/article34848644.ece

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