Thrissur: Roji Augustine, main accused in the case pertaining to the illegal felling of rosewood trees at Muttil region in Wayanad, has claimed that he has not violated any law.
“The necessary documents were provided. No law was violated. The wood was transported 20 days after axing the trees. The investigating officer exerted pressure to register the case," Roji claimed.
He said that case was filed over felling trees in the forest. Roji told Manorama News that wood was brought to Perumbavoor using a depot license.
Roji, a businessman, further revealed that he had given a bribe of around Rs 25 lakh to the forest department officials to axe the trees at Muttil. He said that he had given Rs 10 lakh to DFO (Divisional Forest Officers) and Rs 5 lakh to the range officer, and money was also given to the forest office staff.
"None of them can look me in the eye and say that I have not given money," Roji said, while adding that revenue officials were not given money.
"Fifty-six trees, including 14 on my plot, were axed. The trees that were planted by me and my father were cut down," he claimed. He also said that he had not met the Forest Minister.
Roji also released a phone conversation with the Wayanad DFO, seeking permission to axe the trees. In the phone conversation, Roji demanded that he should be ready to produce the records in the office. The money he had given to the DFO is also mentioned in the phone conversation.
A government order, issued on October 24, 2020, was misinterpreted to fell and transported centuries-old rosewood trees worth crores of rupees. The order allowed farmers to axe royal trees, except sandalwood, which they had planted and naturally grown on the land assigned to them under the Land Assignment Rules.
Misinterpreting the order, a large number of trees were felled on the land assigned to the tribal-backward class communities at South Muttil village.