Muttil tree-felling case: Police submits 84,600-page charge-sheet

Union Min Prakash Javadekar seeks report on illegal axing of rosewood trees in Kerala

Wayanad: The police team led by DySP V V Benny, probing the Muttil tree-felling case, has filed a charge-sheet at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court at Sulthan Bathery here on Monday.

The 84,600-page charge-sheet includes details of DNA tests done to determine the age of trees felled. It was revealed that two of the trees were over 500 years old.

The charge-sheet names 12 accused, including the Augustine brothers -- Roji, Anto and Josekutti, besides 420 witnesses. It has listed 900 documents a CD (Compact Disc) file with 5,200 pages. Muttil village officer KK Aji and special village officer Sindhu are also among the accused.

According to the charge-sheet, the accused fell rosewood trees citing a controversial order issued by the Revenue Department allowing landowners to cut trees planted after 1964. The order was repealed later. A total of 204.635 cubic meters of rosewood worth Rs 8 Crore was cut and smuggled out by the accused in November and December of 2020 and January 2021, according to the charge-sheet.

The Revenue Department had registered as many as 61 cases in the Vythiri Taluk and 14 in the Sulthan Bathery Taluk on the illegal cutting of trees confirmed during the land inspection. As many as 186 trees were surrendered at the timber depot of the Forest Department at Kuppadi. The list of trees that could not be transported to the depot was registered and the list was handed over to the Forest Department.

A total of 75 cases related to the illegal felling of trees were registered under the Kerala Land Conservancy (KLC) Act, 1957, and notices were issued to the land owners.

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