Rosewood felling: police register cases against 68 persons in Wayanad

Action follows complaint by Revenue officials

The police have registered cases against 68 persons in connection with the alleged felling of centuries-old rosewood trees from private plantations within the Muttil South village limits in the district by flouting all norms.

They were charged under Section 379 (theft) of the IPC, and the cases were registered on a complaint from Revenue officials, police sources said.

The incident came to light after Forest Department officials seized 54 pieces of illegal rosewood logs worth ₹60 lakh from a saw mill at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district on February 9. The wood was transported from Wayanad to the saw mill without valid documents, and the seizure was made on a tip-off.

The logs were transported by one Roji Augustine on behalf of a timber company at Vazhavatta in the district, but those accused in the case are yet to be arrested.

Later, officials had found that the timber lobby had axed 202 cubic metres of huge rosewood trees at 42 sites at Vazhavatta, Avalattukunnu, and Karimkannikunnu within the Muttil South Village office limits at low prices by misinterpreting the Government Order (GO). Those logs of wood, worth more than ₹ 8 crore, have been confiscated and shifted to the timber depot of the Forest Department at Kuppady.

According to the GO issued on October 20, 2020, farmers having title deeds can cut all categories of trees, except sandalwood grown on the plot. However, centuries-old trees on patta land reserved to the government were not allowed to be felled.

The forest officials also booked cases against the accused as per Section 5 of the Assigned Pattaya Kerala forest (Prohibition of felling of trees standing on the land temporarily or permanently assigned) Rule 1950.

The Wayanad District Collector had submitted a detailed report on the issue a few days ago to the Revenue Minister.

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