Sugandhagiri tree-cutting: 18 forest employees to face consequences

L Chandrasekhar, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF, Vigilance), has sent the government the investigative report on the unlawful tree-cutting case at Sugandhagiri. The investigation claims that officials from the Wayanad Forest Department who performed poorly in their supervision roles also took bribes from the defendants. Action against Kalpetta range forest officer Neethu and Wayanad South DFO A Shajna has been advised by the report.

A K Saseendran, the minister of forests, expressed dismay at the results at the same time. It has been determined that the significant error was caused by employees of the forest department. High ranking authorities were complicit in the swindle, which heightens the gravity of the situation. It has come to our attention that the officers—including the DFO—knew about the issue but chose to act as if it didn’t. At a news conference in Kozhikode, the minister said, “The head of the vigilance wing has been instructed to take immediate action against the erring officers soon.”

The names of eighteen forest officials are mentioned in the probe report: Shajna, Neethu, M Sajeevan, the flying squad range officer, deputy range officer Beeran Kutty, C S Vishnu, P Siyad Hassan, Najeeb, I V Kiran, K S Chaithanya, Saji Prasad, M K Vinod Kumar, and Balan; Kalpetta beat forest officers; R Vincent, P G Vineesh, K Lakshmi, A A Janu, and Johnson; and K K Chandran, the Kalpetta section forest officer.

A suspension has been imposed on Chandran, Johnson, Saji Prasad, M K Vinod Kumar, and Balan.

According to APCCF Chandrashekar, several officers participated in theft, while others neglected their supervision responsibilities and neglected to check the logs. When they learned about the illegal logging, some authorities did not respond properly, while others even stole money from the loggers.

A review of the case in the past

In this instance, trees were illegally cut under the Indira Gandhi administration as part of the Sugandhagiri Cardamom project on lands allocated to 750 Scheduled Tribes people in Sugandhagiri of the Pozhuthana grama panchayat in the Kalpetta range forest under the South Wayanad Division. While they were only authorized to remove 20 trees, the accused felled approximately 130 huge trees.

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