Sugandhagiri tree felling case: Three accused arrested in Wayanad

The probe team has found guilty three forest staff and suspended them pending inquiry. Photo: Special arrangement.

Kalpetta: A special team of the forest department arrested three of the accused in connection with the Sugandhagiri tree felling and smuggling.

case in the early morning hours on Wednesday. The arrested persons were  Prince, Kanjiramkottil House, Kaniyampatta, Abu Thahir, Karkkakath House, Vythiri and Sudheer Kumar, Dwaraka, Kozhikode. The team, headed by Kalpetta Range Forest Officer Neethu K,  also seized a crane used for loading timber.

A high-level probe committee of three Divisional Forest Officers from outside Wayanad was constituted on Tuesday to probe the massive tree felling in the 3000 acres of vast forest land assigned to the landless tribal families of Sugandhagiri in the Vythiri taluk.

The committee was formed in a high-level meeting held in the presence of forest minister A K Saseendran in Thiruvananthapuram. Flying Squad DFOs Manu Sathyan (Ernakulam), Ajith K Raman (Kannur) and A P Imthiyas (Kozhikode) are members of the probe team. 

Though an internal probe is underway at the South Wayanad Forest Division which unearthed the illegal felling of 101 trees under the cover of a permit given to fell 20 trees, Greens have been demanding a high-level probe as leaders of staff organizations were allegedly involved in the case.

The probe team has found guilty three forest staff and suspended them pending inquiry. Kalpetta section forest officer KK Chandran, forest watchers R Johnson and Balan were suspended. The land in Sugandhagiri under the forest department was handed over to the landless tribal families in 1986, however, the state government has yet to denotify the land and it still remains a forest land as per the records.

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