Tree-felling: resentment over suspension of forest staff in Wayanad

Staff union alleges that the move is to protect higher officials having a nexus with the timber lobby

Resentment is brewing among forest staff organisations in the district against the alleged move of the Forest Department to protect higher officials by punishing the front-line forest staff in connection with the felling of rosewood trees at Muttil in the district.

The Chief Conservator of Forest (Northern circle) on Monday suspended two front-line forest staff, including a Section Forest Officer and a Beat Forest Officer of the South Wayanad forest division, in connection with the incident.

However a meeting of the district committee of the Kerala State Forest Protective Staff Organisation alleged that the move was to protect higher officials who had a nexus with the with the timer lobby.

One of the suspended staff was not on duty at the Forest checkpost, Lakkidi, while the rosewood laden truck was crossing the checkpost. Moreover, the authorities suspended the officials on the basis of a report submitted by a senior official, who had faced allegations in connection with the rosewood felling, the meeting alleged .

Such hasty punishments would adversely affect the morale of front-line forest staff, it said.

The authorities were yet to adopt any steps against the higher officials, including a Section Forest Officer at Muttil and a Forest Range Officer of the Vigilance, who had direct connection with the mafia.

The meeting decided to protest strongly against the suspensions.

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