Kerala Tree Felling Scam: BJP holds protest in Kochi, other areas against state govt

·3 min read
AN Radhakrishnan, BJP Kerala Vice President
AN Radhakrishnan, BJP Kerala Vice President

Kochi (Kerala) [India], June 16 (ANI): As a part of the statewide protest to demand a comprehensive probe into the large scale felling of protected trees on revenue land in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday held a demonstration in Kochi.

AN Radhakrishnan, BJP State Vice President said: "Pinarayi Vijayan government looted by felling huge trees which are 300 to 400 years old and the LDF gained about Rs 1,000 crore through this. Attempts are being made to suspend some officials when these incidents came to light. This is a scam done by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) before the last assembly elections."

BJP leader said that the state government is ruthlessly exploiting nature and demanded a thorough investigation into the matter.

"A thorough investigation is needed into this matter. If it is not done, the Union Ministry of Environment and concerned departments will intervene. We must end this plunder. The state government and the LDF are behind this. The BJP has declared protest today in about 15,000 centres," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan questioned the silence of the Pinarayi-Vijayan-led Kerala government on the felling of trees on revenue land in Wayanad and several other districts across the state.

The union minister said that the state government should have authorised an independent agency to investigate the matter instead of constituting a Special Investigation Team comprising of senior officials of the police, revenue and forest departments.

On June 8, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders staged a walkout from the Kerala Assembly, alleging that the Left government was shielding culprits in the illegal mass felling and smuggling of trees by forest mafia in the revenue land allotted to farmers for agriculture in a tribal village in Wayanad.

PT Thomas who moved the notice for the adjournment motion alleged that rosewood trees worth crores were cut down and smuggled out from the Muttil area in Wayanad to Ernakulam. He said the trees were cut based under the shield of a government order, issued by the Revenue Principal secretary on October 24, 2020, which allowed farmers to fell the trees that they had planted in land assigned to them under the Kerala Land Assignment Rules, 1964.

Opposition leader VD Satheesan had also alleged that the government order issued on October 24 was withdrawn on February 2 after it became a controversy. "But by that time trees were rampantly cut down not only in Wayanad but other districts as well. The Forest Minister and Revenue Minister are completely confused regarding the issue and are trying to evade questions. A comprehensive probe should be carried out to bring out the truth," he said.

Forest Minister AK Saseendran while giving details in the Assembly on the matter had said that 101 trees were cut down and the stolen wood is worth Rs 10 crore. He said that 41 cases have been registered in the matter so far. "The government has taken steps to book the culprits and that the forest officials have recovered woods from a sawmill at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam," the Minister said.

After Speaker denied permission to move the adjournment motion, the Opposition had walked out in protest. (ANI)