Cong MLAs accuse Kerala govt of protecting rosewood smugglers

·2-min read

Wayanad, June 6 (PTI) Congress legislators on Sunday alleged that the Kerala government was shielding gangsters involved in mass felling and smuggling of rosewood in Muttil village in Waynad.

The MLAs T Siddique and I C Balakrishnan demanded a comprehensive probe by any agency other than the forest department into the illegal axing of trees.

'How can such an order for massive felling of trees be issued? It seems like a money transaction had happened. All the culprits behind this should be exposed,' Siddique told reporters after visiting the Muttil area along with Balakrishnan.

'It's not right to entrust the forest department with the investigation. A comprehensive probe should be made by the government using any other agency,' he said.

Congress party had recently demanded a High Court- monitored inquiry into the issue.

Meanwhile, locals and tribals from whose land the trees were felled and smuggled said the people behind the act did not even give them the full compensation as promised.

The villagers too alleged that certain government officials were also involved in the matter.

A tree-felling contractor said none of the officials objected to the cutting of trees from the forest andtribal land and the accused businessmen managed to show and convince everyone that the documents were real.

Forest Minister A K Saseendran has said stern actionwould be taken against the culprits. He said investigations by agencies outside the department have been initiated as involvement of forest officials were suspected in the crime.

Admitting that there has been delay in the investigation, the Minister said it was because of the code of conduct as part of the Assembly election.

A six-member team of the Forest Department had in February investigated into the case and the Wayanad Collector had suspended a Village Officer in connection with the incident.

Revenue Minister K Rajan had also recently instructed the Collector to submit a report on the incident.

The environmental activists of Wayanad have since for long been alerting the authorities on widespread timber-smuggling in and around Wayanad reserve forests.

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