Latest Kerala Local News: Muttil tree felling: letters of approval produced by the accused fo

#R Ananthakrishnan, M Kamal | News from Mathrubhumi
Accused in the Muttil Tree Felling case File Photo: Mathrubhumi Archives

Thiruvananthapuram / Wayanad: The investigative team said on Saturday that the letters produced by the accused authorizing the felling of trees in Muttil were fake. The police reportedly discovered that the letters delivered to the village office, on behalf of the landowners, had been forged by the accused.

According to the police, the seven letters were written by the main defendant, Roji Augustine, and he then submitted the letters to the village office. Anto Augustine was also named as a defendant in the case.

Initially, they were responsible for presenting the letters of approval, provided by the owners of the patta lands, for the felling of the trees, to the village office. Seven of these letters were submitted in response to the directive, but upon investigation were found to be false.

In addition, DNA tests and scientific analyzes were carried out, which revealed that trees as old as 574 years old had been felled.

According to the defendant’s explanation, the trees were felled based on the approval they claimed to have received under the Land Reform Act. However, legally only trees that grew naturally or were planted on patta land granted as deeds after the implementation of the Land Reform Act can be felled.

Farmers were allowed to cut trees other than sandalwood. However, scientific tests showed that the accused felled trees over 500 years old, with the oldest tree being 574 years old.

In addition, nine trees were over 400 years old, 12 over 300 years old, 41 over 200 years old and 31 over 100 years old. The remaining seven trees were about 85 years old. This debunks the defense’s claim that they had Treasury Department permission to cut down trees planted after 1964.

The landowners previously said they did not provide permission documents to cut down the trees. However, the defendants deceived the landowners by claiming that they had been ordered by the government to cut down the trees, which had been reserved for several years.

The wood from the felled trees was seized during an attempted smuggling through the Perumbavoor forestry depot. Meanwhile, it is learned that the police will submit an indictment in the case by next month. The probe is led by Tanur DySP VV Benny.

Of the 19 cases being investigated by the special investigation team regarding tree felling, indictments have been filed in seven cases so far.

The Muttil tree felling case concerns the misinterpretation of a government order and the felling of endangered rosewood on pattaya revenue land in the village of Muttil in Wayanad. The main defendants are Roji Augustine, originally from Vazhavatta, and his brothers Jose Kutty Augustine and Anto Augustine.

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