Village officer suspended over felling of rosewood

Wayanad District Collector Adeela Abdulla on Friday suspended A. Ajikumar, village officer of Muttil South village, in connection with the felling of centuries-old rosewood trees from private plantations within the village limits by flouting all norms.

Mr. Ajikumar was suspended for his failure to execute an order of the Collector. According to a government order issued on October 20, 2020, farmers having title deeds can cut all categories of trees, except sandalwood grown on the plot, Ms. Adeela Abdulla told The Hindu . However, centuries-old trees on patta land reserved to the government were not allowed to be felled.

“As there were some ambiguities in the order, we had requested the government to make a clarification and directed village officers not to adopt any steps till getting the clarification,” Ms. Abdulla said. Mr. Ajikumar issued permits to transport rosewood logs to a timber merchant on January 5 without considering the directive, she said. A team of senior revenue officials led by Deputy Collector (Land Assignment) had been constituted to investigate the issue further, she said.

According to the Forest department sources, the timber lobby had axed close to 165 cubic metre of huge rosewood trees at 28 sites at Vazhavatta, Avalattukunnu, and Karimkannikunnu within the Muttil South Village office limits at low prices by misinterpreting the government order.

Forest department officials had seized 54 pieces of illegal rosewood timbers worth ₹60 lakh from a saw mill at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district on February 9. The wood was transported from Wayanad to the saw mill without valid documents and the seizure was made on the basis of a tip-off.

The rosewood was transported by one Roji Augustine on behalf of a timber company at Vazhavatta in the district and whose owners are now absconding, D.K. Vinod Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Northern Circle), Kannur, said.

The Forest department had constituted a high level team led by P. Jayaprakash, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Northern Range) to investigate the massive tree felling and smuggling, Mr. Kumar, who is also the convener of the team, said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 11:07:40 am |