Kozhikode: The controversy over the illegal felling of rosewood trees has split the forest department with the field staff fearing a concerted move by senior officials to make them scapegoats in the incident.
The Forest Protective Staff Association submitted a memorandum to Forest Minister A K Saseendran, alleging moves were on to absolve officials in the rank of range officers and above.
The Association alleged that the intention was to make field staff face the cases and shoulder the liabilities arising out of the incident.
The memorandum said moves were afoot to make field staff scapegoats for lapses of the revenue department which had led to the loss of trees under its guard. The Association also listed out the lapses of the Chief of the Forest Department.
About 5,000 field staff have registered their protest. The forest department employees had only issued passes for transporting timber from the revenue land.
The Association informed the minister that it would not comply with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF)’s February 16 order to register cases against those who had issued the passes.
The Forest Department should have sought the clarification from the government soon after the Revenue Principal Secretary had issued the controversial order, the memorandum pointed out. The sub-offices of the Forest Department should have warned of the consequences of implementing the order.
The Forest Department chief and PCCF had not issued any instruction to the junior officials, the memorandum said.
The Association said the move now was to make the forest department staff take up the responsibility of the revenue department’s failure.
The memorandum suggested the government to cancel the deeds if trees on assigned deeded land were felled in breach of the deed conditions. It also requested the government not to place the additional burden of safeguarding trees on revenue land.
Hundreds of centuries-old trees on assigned deeded land were felled by misinterpreting the Revenue Principal Secretary’s order, which was cancelled in February.