Four Forest Department staff in Ooty suspended for failing to check illegal tree felling

Officials said a private estate had obtained permission to fell 500 silver oak trees but had felled 200 native trees as well

Disciplinary action has been initiated by the Forest Department against four forest staff, including two range officers for failing to check the illegal felling of 200 native trees at a private estate in Naduvattam.

According to officials, the estate in question, the Silver Cloud Estate, had applied for permission to fell 500 silver oak trees in 2018 and had been given permission to do so by the district committee headed by the Collector. However, in November and December of 2020 and January of 2021, the estate had felled 200 native trees along with the 500 trees they had been given permission for felling.

Recently, officials from the Nilgiris Forest Division visited the estate and found that they had illegally felled the trees and booked a case under the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forests Act.

The four Forest Department staff have since been suspended, confirmed officials. They include two forest range officers, one forester and a guard who had been posted in-charge of the range when the illegal felling occurred.

Illegal tree felling has become a source of concern in the Nilgiris forest division. Recently, reports of private estate owners circumventing established procedures to obtain permission to fell trees by claiming them to be at risk of falling on houses, led the department to set up a checkpost in Kil Kotagiri to prevent illegal movement of timber from the area.

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