Recipient of Padma Shri in 2020, Bhanbhu has planted over 5.5 lakh saplings, of which 3.5 lakh have grown into big trees, giving oxygen worth Rs 12 billion to the masses.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan granted permission for the vigilance probe based on the recommendation of the special investigation team (SIT).
Anto Augustine, Josekutty Augustine and Roji Augustine where nabbed during a vehicle inspection held on Wednesday.
The court also termed as disturbing that statutory provisions were infringed by officials by issuing executive directions 'with impunity.'
The first circular of the forest department that paved the way for timber loot was issued in last March by overturning decisive recommendations.
The directive was allegedly issued to circumvent the law that prohibited the felling of royal trees, sandalwood, rosewood, teakwood and ebony.
It is not clear what led to the October 24, 2020, Government Order, which timber smugglers allegedly used as a cover to indiscriminately cut down protected rosewood and teak trees.
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.
Misinterpreting a government order, a large number of trees were felled on land assigned to the tribal-backward class communities at South Muttil village. in Wayanad district
PT Thomas had alleged that the smugglers, who had transported over 200 cubic metres of rosewood from Wayanad to Perumbavoor in Ernakulam in February this year, had official and political patronage.