More cases of tree felling emerging

500 huge teak and rosewood trees were suspected to be felled from Thrissur

Fresh cases of suspected illegal felling of trees have emerged from across the State as the investigating teams are pouring over official records and visiting the sites to ascertain the magnitude of loss.

Five investigation teams headed by Divisional Forest Officers of the Flying Squads were on the field on Sunday to cross-verify the permits issued for transporting the timber with the status of the holdings in which the felled trees were located.

Around 500 huge teak and rosewood trees were suspected to be felled illegally from Thrissur district under the cover of the now-cancelled government order. The trees were suspected to be illegally axed from Elanad, Pattikkad and Mannamangalam areas of Thrissur district. While most of the trees that were felled in Wayanad were seized, it is suspected that the trees that were cut down in Thrissur had crossed the borders of the State, which could make its detection and seizure a difficult task, according to investigators.

In Ernakulam, its feared that around 100 huge teak trees that were located close to the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary were brought down. A few logs, that were suspected to have been cut out from the felled trees, were seized from Perambuvoor. Around 40 permits were issued by the forest officials in Ernakulam for taking out the felled trees.

It was not clear whether all the trees that were cut down during the suspected period of illegal felling were the reserved species that were located on the assigned land, an officer in the investigation team said.

It was estimated that close to 300 trees were felled in Idukki district and the most number of such cases were found to have taken place at Neriyamangalam and Adimali areas. One such case has been reported from Edavanna in Palakkad district.

A laborious challenge awaits the investigation teams as they have to verify the land records that are available with the revenue officials to ascertain the status of the land and the legality of the permits issued by the forest officials.

Legal action will be initiated in cases where reserved species located in revenue land were cut down. The legality of the felling could be determined only be inspecting the land assignment documents in each area, he said.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance and Forest Intelligence) has asked the investigating teams to submit their report before June 22.

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