Latest Kerala Local News: Guilty in Muttil tree-cutting case will not be spared, swears

Kozhikode: Kerala State Forestry and Wildlife Minister A Saseendran has claimed that the culprits in the Muttil rosewood smuggling case will not be spared.

The investigation into the matter is moving in the right direction and the culprits will be punished. The Forestry Department had taken the same position early on, the minister added.

He also confirmed that the trees had been felled on “pattaya” land. The special investigation team looked into all aspects of the case as illegal acts were committed by misinterpreting the government order.

Usually, in each case, the accused is looking for loopholes to get out of the case. It was clarified earlier that the timber was cut at Muttil and elsewhere by misinterpreting an order issued by the government. When the government realized this, a notification was issued freezing the order,” Saseendran said.

The conclusions drawn by the Forestry Department were passed on to the investigation team. If the investigation team registers cases, the government will take punitive measures such as suspending relevant officials. The government could have put an end to the problem by taking measures like the suspension at the very beginning of the problem. But if that happened, everyone involved in the crime would escape. The position of governments is that they should not be allowed to remain unscathed, Saseendran said.

Meanwhile, the owners of the land on which the rosewood trees were felled said Augustinian brothers Anto, Roji and Josekutty and the other defendants deceived them by claiming that the village officer granted permission to fell the trees. The tribal farmers said they had not signed any agreement in this regard.

As previously reported, the smuggling came to light when rosewood logs smuggled by Augustine Brothers were captured by the Forest Department. The logs were transported to a sawmill at Karimugal in Ernakulam district.

Illegal felling of protected trees had caused the state coffers to lose millions of rupees.

how it all went

A government order, issued on October 24, 2020, was misconstrued to fell and transport centuries-old rosewood trees worth millions of rupees. The ordinance allowed farmers to cut royal trees, with the exception of sandalwood, which they had planted and grown naturally on the land allocated to them under the land allocation rules. Misinterpreting the order of 2020, a large number of trees have been felled on the land allocated to the backward class tribal communities of South Muttil village in Wayanad district.

(Pattayam is a land ownership document issued to individuals or institutions by the state government from their state-owned land, also known as revene land.)

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